The world's largest species of bee was found on a remote Indonesian island, after being lost for decades. Scientists hadn't seen a living example of Wallace's giant bee since 1981, before a team found the thumb-sized bee in the North Moluccas.
"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this 'flying bulldog' of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore, to have real proof right there in front of us in the wild," photographer Clay Bolt told the BBC after being the first person to take photos and video of the bee. "To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible."
The bee was found by following the trail of British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who found the species in 1858. The naturalist, who helped Charles Darwin author his theory of evolution, first described the bee with a two-inch wingspan. The new trip was funded by Global Wildlife Conservation, an environmental group that has sponsored trips to find animals believed to have gone extinct. They believe that the finding of rare species will help push people toward conservation. Other trips that they have funded have found rare Bolivian frogs of a species that was thought to be down to a single living male.
"By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation, we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion," said GWC Communications Director Robin Moore.