Museum specimen of Dryococelus australis showing the muscular hind legs.
Dryococelus australis species was first described by Montrouzier in 1885.
The Australian genus Dryococelus has traditionally been closely allied with the New Guinean Eurycantha in the subfamily Eurycanthinae to which it bears a close physical resemblance.
For nearly 150 years the Lord Howe Island stick insect was thought to be part of the sub-family Eurycanthinae (which includes Eurycantha calcarata, the giant spiny stick insect, which is commonly kept as a pet in Europe).
Recent studies suggest it may not be a member of the Eurycanthinae but instead belong to the Phasmatinae. Further work is needed to resolve this issue satisfactorily.
The close resemblance of Dryococelus australis to the Eurycanthinae may be due to convergent evolution that is they have independently evolved to adapt to similar conditions. Find out more.