Tortoise & Bee Presumed Extinct Recently Rediscovered — Surprise Survivors

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This is Wallace's giant bee, the beefiest and bumbliest bee on Earth.

The female bee had a wingspan of about 2.5 inches, according to the University of Sydney statement.

The species was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1981 by Adam Messer, an American entomologist, who found six nests on the island of Bacan and two other nearby islands. He also wrote that the bee was big as a human thumb.

He ventured to the Bacan Islands in Indonesia in 1858 and found the bee with "immense jaws like a stag-beetle".

Together, the two hatched a plan to travel to Indonesia to find the bee.

"So we weren't sure if it still existed".

As Earther reports, the search for the bee began to heat back up early past year when a preserved specimen fetched almost five figures in an online auction.

Bolt teamed up with entomologist Eli Wyman and convinced Global Wildlife Conservation, a nonprofit group that sends out search parties to hunt for "lost" species - animals that haven't been spotted in at least a decade- to add Wallace's Giant Bee to their list. "The vast majority of the 20,000 known species of bee in the world are quite calm and not aggressive", he said.

"We decided that we had to go there", Bolt said.

The team of global conservationists and researchers released photographs and video of a nest and its queen and described their discovery as the "holy grail" of species discoveries.

Messer was the last scientist to document the supersize bees in the wild - until now.

Torrential rain, extreme humidity and temperatures meant the search was tortuous.

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Despite its size, nearly nothing known was known about the female's secretive life cycle apart from that it lives largely alone and burrows in termite mounds, which it coats with waterproof resin. The resin would harden and keep pesky termites from getting inside.

After days of fruitless searching, the expedition reached its final day. "My goal was to be the first person to make a photo of a living Wallace's Giant Bee and I had achieved that goal". When Iswan climbed up and peeked inside the hole, he recoiled, thinking he saw a snake move inside. Rather, they're used "like salad tongs" to take resin back to its nest.

It was no snake, but Megachile pluto herself, blocking entry to her abode.

The giant bee's build "communal nests on termite dwellings", according to CBS news. "For me, it was a moment of tremendous gratitude and humility that I was a part of this moment and this team". The last time a specimen was spotted was 1981.

They filmed and photographed the creature, which is described as being four times larger than a European honeybee.

But those huge jaws "aren't for nipping", Gizmodo reported. So, more like salad tongs than pincers. Live Science called it a "nightmare bee".

The bee seemed "very relaxed", Bolt said.

At first Wallace's giant bee was elusive.

"It's a symbol of these islands", Bolt said of the bird.

Similar to other bees, the Wallace bee feeds on nectar and pollen.

"This really offered me hope".

Wallace's giant bee shows that, with time and effort, even long lost species can be found again.

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