Last weekend, 4 and 5 December, Bruce Marshall (Te Papa’s resident malacologist and Collection Manager Mollusca) and Simon Whittaker (Manager, Te Papa Collections) visited Kristelle Plimmer (Curator, Aotea Utanganui – Museum of South Taranaki) in Patea, and the three of them collected minute land snails (24 species found) and specimens of a minute freshwater snail at a seepage in the forest at Lake Rotorangi.
The freshwater snail is possibly Sororipyrgus kutukutu Haase, 2008, the holotype of which can be see on our collections on line site, but confirmation awaits study of the anatomy and DNA.
A further rich collection of tiny freshwater snails was made at a seepage in a cutting on Ball Road on the way to the Lake.
Next day they segued to the Patea River, where they collected specimens of the freshwater limpet Latia neritoides, the only light emitting freshwater mollusc in the world. That evening Bruce demonstrated its light production.
After this they visited Waverley Beach, where they viewed the spectacular, richly fossiliferous, 3.5 million year old Waverley Shellbed, exposed at the foot of the cliff to the north of the settlement.
Further north on the beach they viewed standing and fallen trees from a drowned fossil forest exposed by erosion, as well as fossil soils, thick peat layers and beds of seeds and leaves.
Bruce discovered casts of hitherto unknown bivalve in the sediment containing the trees, which had evidently been deposited in a swamp. The placename of nearby Waitotara, incidentally, is derived from trees from a fossil forest exposed in the Waitotara River.