New Species Of Giant Sea Cockroaches That Look Like Darth Vader Discovered

by : Cameron Frew on : 18 Jul 2020 13:00
Darth Vader Giant Isopod ThumbnailLKCNHM/Lucasfilm

On the dark side of the Indian Ocean, researchers from Singapore discovered a new species of giant sea cockroaches that look like Darth Vader. 

The 14-legged giant isopod was found lurking in the Sunda Strait, south of the island of Java, with samples being collected from depths as far down as 1.3 miles.


While somewhat resembling the helmet and eyes of the iconic foe in a galaxy far, far away, the creature has been given a less catchy name: Bathynomus raksasa.

Darth Vader Giant Isopod 2LKCNHM

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researchers, alongside the National University of Singapore, conducted the marine survey in 2018, exploring 63 sites over the course of two weeks, employing trawling, dredging and several types of seafloor coring devices.

Their yield was huge, collecting around 12,000 deep-sea creatures in their travels, from crabs, jellyfish, fish, mollusks and prawns to sponges, starfish, urchins and worms. Of the 800 species, 12 were unrecorded until that time, including Bathynomus raksasa, BBC News reports.

Darth Vader Giant Isopod 3LIPI

Conni Margaretha Sidabalok, a LIPI Biology Research Center researcher, said in a statement: 

Its size is indeed very large and occupies the second largest position of the genus Bathynomus. The discovery of the first Bathynomus from the deep sea of ​​Indonesia is very important for taxonomic research in deep sea crustaceans, given the scarcity of similar research in Indonesia.

Bathynomus raksasa can reportedly reach up to around 20 inches in length, making it the second-largest isopod species currently known, beaten only by the Bathynomus giganteus.


Giant isopods, such as this ocean Sith lord, may look similar to woodlice and cockroaches, but they’re far closer to the likes of shrimp and crabs. They can survive for long periods of time without food, feeding on the remains of dead animals on the seabed.

Darth Vader Giant IsopodLKCNHM

Cahyo Rahmadi, acting head of Zoology of the LIPI Biology Research Center, echoed Conni’s sentiments, adding: 

The discovery of new species is a great achievement of a taxonomist especially spectacular species in terms of size and even the ecosystem where the species is found. The future of the disclosure of Indonesia’s biodiversity is in line with the rate of species extinction and possibly taxonomists as the front line.


The survey’s findings were published in the journal Zookeys earlier this month. Whether or not you think it looks like Darth Vader is one thing, but the researchers’ finding is a glowing indication of the untapped biodiversity of Indonesia’s waters. That said, ‘be careful not to choke on your aspirations’.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Indonesia, Now, Research, Science


BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    LIPI researchers found animals resembling giant-sized 'cockroaches' in the Sunda Strait

  2. Zookeys

    Description of the supergiant isopod Bathynomus raksasa sp. nov. (Crustacea, Isopoda, Cirolanidae) from southern Java, the first record of the genus from Indonesia