Posts categorized as Biodiversity

DNA finds kiwi’s origins: Introducing Stewie

Articulated kiwi skeleton from Te Papa's collection. Photo by Lara Shepherd.

A number of biological specimens in Te Papa’s collection, particularly old specimens, lack information about when and where they were collected. This information may have been lost since the specimen was collected or was simply not recorded at the time. However, all is not lost! Sometimes we can use DNA to determine where a specimen… Read more »

Jovellana sinclairii flowering in Bush City

Flowers of Jovellana sinclairii, in Te Papa’s Bush City. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Te Papa’s Bush City is currently graced by a good display of sprays of the white, bell-like flowers of Jovellana sinclairii. If you’re visiting, you can see them beside the waterfall, on the lower track. Jovellana sinclairii is not a common plant in the wild. You’re most likely to find this large herb beside streams… Read more »

“We are the same-same.” Rapa Nui visitors to Te Papa Tongarewa

  • Me and Koro (Alberto)
  • Rapa Nui 006
  • The visiting group and the curator, in front of Te Hono ki Hawaiki (Te Papa's wharenui)
  • the Rapa Nui people, during a parade at the Festival of the Arts

This past Saturday (1 December 2012), we had a special request from a group of visitors who were going to be in Wellington for a weekend. They wished to come in and talk to some of the curators and see the collection. This is relatively common but what was slightly unusual about the group was… Read more »

Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin 2012

Mänuka, Leptospermum scoparium. One of many native plants put to many uses. Captain Cook used it with rimu to make beer.

The botanically-inclined may find something of interest in the just-published Wellington Botanical Society Bulletin. Number 54 includes: the uses of some common native plants. notes on the propagation of native plants. accounts of the diatoms and bryophytes recorded during the 2011 bioblitz on Mana Island. the use of names in botany. detailed accounts of the… Read more »

Help with floating fern

Azolla plants often become red in full sunlight, and they can become so abundant that they carpet ponds, drains, and other still bodies of water. This is Azolla filiculoides in a pond on Mana Island, Wellington. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I’ve recently learnt that the introduced Azolla pinnata (ferny azolla) has been found in the Wellington region. I’m interested in its distribution and would be grateful for help in looking for more. Azolla plants are fairly easy to spot: look for a red plant covering still bodies of water. Azolla are ferns, believe it or… Read more »

Where to find new species?

Biodiversity-treasure - inside one of Te Papa’s two botany collection stores.  Copyright Te Papa.

Where would you go to find a new species? Perhaps somewhere remote and little-visited, especially if it is ecologically unusual – New Caledonia maybe… Well, instead, how about inside Te Papa’s collections, because that’s where I first discovered a new species of Gleichenia tangle fern. A lot of biodiversity remains to be documented, particularly amongst… Read more »

World’s rarest whale revealed to the world.

M traversii mother

Even in this well-informed age it’s surprising how much we still don’t know about the natural world – especially the oceans!    All whales must come to the surface to breathe, despite this the Spade-tooth whale Mesoplodon traversii (Gray, 1874), an animal over 5m in length, has never been see alive, and until 31 December 2010 no one… Read more »