Was thought to be extinct. It’s not

Was thought to be extinct. It’s not

The world's largest bee has been found, years after experts thought it had been lost forever.

The world's biggest bee, which was feared extinct, has been rediscovered on an Indonesian island.

He described the female-about as long as an adult human's thumb, and four times larger than a European honeybee-as a "large, black, wasp-like insect, with enormous jaws like a stag beetle".

Search teams failed to find the bee again, but the rediscovery of a sole female raises hopes that the region's forests still harbour this species.

The search team found the bee in January, but the bee discovery was just announced today.

"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 To actually see how handsome 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", Bolt said in a statement.

Eli Wyman, who joined Mr Bolt on the trip, added: 'To actually see how attractive 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 team set off on their expedition last month, retracing the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace - who discovered the bee - through Indonesia to find the long lost insect.

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"We know that putting the news out about this rediscovery could seem like a big risk given the demand, but the reality is that unscrupulous collectors already know that the bee is out there", Robin Moore, a conservation biologist with Global Wildlife Conservation, which funded the expedition, told the Guardian.

It would be another 120 before the creepy critters were seen again, when entomologist Adam Messer rediscovered them in 1981 on three Indonesian islands.

The rediscovery is being celebrated by entomologists, but scientists anxious about the species vulnerable status are concerned the publicity will put the giant bee in danger. The last time a specimen was spotted was 1981.

Wallace's giant bee is four times larger than a honeybee.

Natural history photographer Clay Bolt was the first to take photos and videos of the species after years of research.

In theory, Goulson said, the large mandibles are similar to mason bees, which use them to help form the balls of mud that shape their nests.

Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) researchers spent five days in the North Moluccas, where they observed dozens of termite mounds-home to the female giant bee.

Bolt and one of his teammates, entomologist Eli Wyman, returned to the US after making the discovery and hope to work with researchers and conservation groups in Indonesia to ensure protection for the giant bee, Bolt wrote.

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