Borneo's Wild New Species: A "Ninja Slug," the World's Longest Bug, & More

By Smriti Rao | April 22, 2010 5:57 pm

A flying frog that changes colors, a stick insect that’s a foot and a half long, and a “ninja slug” that shoots “love darts.” These are among the 120 new species discovered or described over the past three years on the lush island of Borneo–the Southeast Asia island divided between Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.

On Earth Day, the conservation group WWF released a report on some of the recent discoveries in a 54-million-acre nature preserve known as the Heart of Borneo. WWF ecologist Adam Tomasek says that on an average, three new species were found every month.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Slugs?


This colorful green and yellow slug species, named Ibycus rachelae, was discovered atop high mountains in the Malaysian section of Borneo. The slug has a tail three times the length of its head, and it wraps the tail around itself when it is resting. From the Ariophantidae family, this unusual species makes use of so-called ‘love darts’ in courtship. Made of calcium carbonate, the love dart is harpoon-like which pierces and injects a hormone into a mate, and may play a role in increasing the chances of reproduction [Guardian].

Image: Peter Koomen / WWF

  • stefan fritsch

    in regards to the borneo stick bug

    woo ha for man…another great idea

    only 3 of these bugs found and we feel a great desire to reduce the possibilty of this insect reproducing by taking one out of the equation.

    i would think it would have been best to leave this little guy/girl out with the others so it could mate, but i guess science thinks nothing of taking what may be the only female or male out of the wild so we can make another species extinct.

    i can understand the desire to learn, but lets wait til we know there are even a few hundred or thousand around before we isolate them.

    but what the hey…lets wipe out another animal, or better yet lets mess around with nature a bit and make pets out of these cute little fellas.

  • Michael brandon

    I agree with this as well, don’t destroy something trying to learn about it. you think that we have done this enough, to learn how not to screw up an ecosystem.

  • stick it

    The only reason three have been found is because it looks like a frickin stick. A creature so well adapted, with such great camouflage is not that easy to spot. For all we know, there are probably hundreds of thousands of these stick insects around, we just can’t see them.

  • robin499

    Having just discovered this creature,why are we even considering interfering with it’s life cycle in any way?It may play a vital role in the ecology of Borneo.Hav’nt we killed off enough species,moved them to enviroment that offer no natural safeguards to their over population?

    Just consider the Asian Carp that has taken oveer many of the great rivers in the center of our Country.An electric grid,11 miles from Lake Michigan,is all that keeps them from taking over the Great Lakes.All it would take is a power outage for a very short period of time and the Great Lakes would forever be changed.
    Moving species from their natural habitat can have deadly consequences.Look what happened when the squirel poplation dropped in the Middle East.The fleas who lived on the squirels moved to the rats who were very good at sneaking onto ships loaded with grains and other goods.The peoples of the Middle East had a natural immunity to this flea borne disease.Europeans had never been exposed to this disease,and it is estimated that 1/3 or Europe died of the “Black Death”.In Zaire a man exploring a cave finished his research and was planning on returning to Marburgh Germany.Thank God he did not.The Marbrgh form of ebola has a very short incubation period,perhaps 2-3 days.By then, the victims body becomes a factory for producing more ebola virus.The organs of the body turn to a jelly like material as the virus reproces in every cell untill it explodes.Within 5 days the victim bleeds out,because ther is no longer any structure keft to the bodies organs,onlyvauge shapes bursting with ebola virus.If this man had made it on to his flight to Germany,there is a good chance that millions of people could have been infected.Alof our airports,trains busses,subways,etc would move the virus at a frightening speed.Think how fast the “Flu” spreads around the world.Marburgh is not an airborn virus, so contact with bodily fluids is required for transmission.

    In Reston Virginia, maybe 20 min. to Washington DC.A gruop of monkeys were being tested with a new variatian of the virus.Comming in one morning they discovered that ALL the monkees and all the Staff was infected,even though strict controls were kept on contact with bodily fluids.This form of Rbola was AIRBORNE could be spread by a cough or a sneeze.Luckily humans were not killed by this strain of Ebola,but ALL the monkees died.We still do not know where Ebola comes from,even though many research crews went to Zaire and checked out everything they could think of that the”Marbrgh” victim may have been exposed to.Viruses are the great survivors on planet Earth.They have lived through every cataclysm that has wiped out almost all species in the last half a billion years or so.They adapt.they change to suit the environmentThe best survivors learn how not to kill their host and just keep on making little viruses.
    So don’t be in a hurry to play God with the creatures on this Earth.The balance is so fine that the smallest efforts to change the balance by Man can destroy life in ways that we can never imagine.We have not learned to live om our own planet without trying very hard to kill each other,and we think we can balance out the ecosytem of Earth? What an arogant bunch of fools!

  • Harman Smith

    “only 3 of these bugs found and we feel a great desire to reduce the possibilty of this insect reproducing by taking one out of the equation.
    i would think it would have been best to leave this little guy/girl out with the others so it could mate, but i guess science thinks nothing of taking what may be the only female or male out of the wild so we can make another species extinct.”

    My goodness, dude. I’m sure there’s more than 3 of these creatures out there. It’s an insect, not a giant mammal. The forests are probably loaded with these. And besides that, since when is taking species for examination and study a cause of extinction for species? I think we should worry about the forests of Borneo being annihilated instead.

  • Vibram KSO Trek Mens

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  • John Koens

    No need to all worked up over removing a single Phasmid for research purposes. This is borneo, its a large dense jungle and many phasmids are canopy dwellers, these 3 they found would only represent a very small percentage of the population, even if they took all 3 it would have no impact on the species long term survival. Many phasmids are like that, take Ctenomorpha gargantua or Phyllium monteithii from north qld. Both are canopy dwelling species, very very rarely found but there is no reason at all to call them rare. Eggs and mature males are occasionally found, indicating they reproducing despite the small number of specimens taken for science.


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