Welcome to a world that shelters an array of Hawaiian native species including a host of fascinating birds, carnivorous caterpillars, the largest dragonfly in the United States, crickets partial to new lava flows, endangered sea turtles and just one native terrestrial mammal - a bat. Many organism groups common on continents never succeeded in making the journey to the Hawaiian Islands. Yet for those with the right survival strategy, these remote volcanic islands became a kind of evolutionary frontier for species who exploited new opportunities to find food and homes beginning about 70 million years ago. Most native animal species in the Hawaiian Archipelago are descendents of those that were able to fly here, such as birds, bats and insects; those light enough to be carried by birds, such as snails, some insects and spiders; and those blown here or washed ashore. Their descendents survived and reproduced to eventually inhabit every possible nook and cranny.
Last updated: November 22, 2020