Posts categorized as Biodiversity

How to deal with human DNA contamination of your DNA sequencing: an example from a Malawian dance garment.

Dance garment, c. 1900, Malawi (Chewa culture), Photograph by Kate Whitley. Copyright Te Papa MA_I.374711

You’ve probably seen forensic scientists on TV taking swabs and fingerprints from crime scenes. They aren’t wearing labcoats, hairnets and gloves to look cool but to prevent them contaminating their forensic evidence with their own DNA. But how do scientists deal with items that are already contaminated with unwanted human DNA? I recently encountered this… Read more »

Hautere/Solander Island, The Capital of Albatrossness

  • Buller's Albatross flying at sea in a storm near Hautere/Solander Island. Photo Dominique Filippi, Copyright Dominique Filippi
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  • The campsite at the albatross colony on Hautere/Solander Island
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Its probably one of the most rugged small island sites around the Southern Ocean….lacking only a glacier to make it truly inhospitable. No huts, no trees, and best of all, no humans! And yet Hautere/Solander Island has something of a reputation of among seabird researchers. Most of the ones I have encountered, who had been there, said “What would possess… Read more »

Hautere/Solander Island – 1933 and 2016 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 12)

  • Red-crowned parakeet, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Weka, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Buller's mollymawk parents and chick, Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Buller's mollymawks in a gale, viewed from Solander Island, May 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Edgar Stead (1881-1949) was a Canterbury naturalist famous (among other things) for exhuming the enormous Okarito blue whale skeleton now in Canterbury Museum, breeding the Ilam strain of rhododendrons and azaleas, and being an astute observer of New Zealand birds. His magnificent homestead ‘Ilam’ is now the Canterbury University staff club, and was the main… Read more »

New sunfish discovered

Marianne Nyegaard, Andrew Stewart and Te Papa intern Etsuro Suwai measuring a specimen of the new sunfish. (Photo Salme Kortet, Te Papa).

Sunfishes (family Molidae) are large, distinctive, oceanic fishes found worldwide. Scientists generally agree there are two species of sunfish – the oceanic sunfish (Mola mola) and the bump-headed or short sunfish (Mola ramsayi). However, recent DNA analyses of sunfish samples collected and sequenced overseas has indicated the presence of a third, undescribed, and previously unknown… Read more »

Robert Falla and the Westland petrel

  • Westland petrel (Procellaria westlandica), Paparoa National Park. Image: Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Robert Falla at his desk in the Dominion Museum, watched over by a spotted shag. Image: Te Papa MA_B.016181
  • White-capped mollymawk (Thalassarche cauta steadi). Image: Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online
  • The three versions of the Falla, Sibson, turbot field guide, published between 1966 and 1990. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

The museum’s fifth Director became our second knight. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end of 2016. The exhibition, and this series of blogs, explore… Read more »

W.R.B. Oliver – jack-of-all-trades and master of most

  • Chatham Island red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae chathamensis Oliver, 1930) – named by Oliver in his first edition of New Zealand birds. Image: Dave Crouchley, Department of Conservation/New Zealand Birds Online
  • Reginald Oliver collecting plants at Wilmot Pass, Fiordland, March 1927. Image by J.T. Salmon, Dominion Museum. Te Papa (MA_B.014931)
  • Dominion Museum building, 1984 (then known as the National Museum). Image: Mark Strange, Te Papa (MA_B.016888)
  • IShepherd’s beaked whale (Tasmacetus shepherdi Oliver 1937) stranded at Ōteranga Bay, Wellington, September 1998. Photograph by Peter Simpson, Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai (10041750)

Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end of 2016. The exhibition, and this series of blogs, explore the history of the museum by showcasing some… Read more »

Allan Thomson and the Cenozoic brachiopods

  • J. Allan Thomson (1881-1928). Image: Journal of Science and Technology Vol. 10 no. 2
  • Fossil lamp shell (brachiopod) Rhizothyris amygdala Thomson, 1920; holotype BR.001348, Hutchinson's Quarry, Oamaru, greensands
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  • Fossil lamp shell (brachiopod) Pachymagas hectori Thomson, 1920; holotype BR.001339, Landon Creek, near Oamaru, greensands. Named after Allan Thomson’s predecessor as Director of the Colonial Museum (later Dominion Museum), Sir James Hector

Our national museum’s third director was New Zealand’s first Rhodes Scholar, but was cut down in his prime. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end… Read more »

Augustus Hamilton and the gold-spangled butterfly

  • Hamilton’s black mountain butterfly (Percnodaimon micans). Lectotype of Erebia pluto micans Hamilton, 1909. Te Papa AI.024867. Te Papa image
  • Bust of Augustus Hamilton, Director Colonial Museum 1903-1907, Director Dominion Museum 1907-1913. Te Papa ME016792. Image: Te Papa
  • Hamilton’s black mountain butterfly (Percnodaimon micans) – underside of wing showing golden scales. Lectotype of Erebia pluto micans Hamilton, 1909. Te Papa AI.024867. Te Papa image
  • Hamilton’s frog (Leiopelma hamiltoni) holotype. Te Papa AM.000012. Te Papa image MA_I069445

Our national museum’s second director was an ethnologist with broad interests in natural sciences. Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You called me WHAT?!’ is open on Level 3 until the end of 2016. The exhibition,… Read more »

Unforgettable names for a new forget-me-not species

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/visit/whats-on/exhibitions/you-called-me-what-150-years-scientific-discovery-te-papa

We asked you to suggest a species name for a newly discovered New Zealand forget-me not. In addition to some creative descriptive and geographic names, many of your suggestions were commemorative. The practice of naming species after famous people (real or fictional) dates back over 250 years. Are such names just a gimmick, or an effective means of promoting… Read more »