Posts categorized as Fossils

Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 2 – Songbirds

  • Skull and mandible of Chatham Island raven (Corvus moriorum). Te Papa Collections Online S.028679
  • Skull and mandible of South Island stout-legged wren (Pachyplichas yaldwyni). Te Papa Collections Online S.023578
  • Lyall’s wren (Traversia lyalli). Te Papa Collections Online OR.005098
  • Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris). Te Papa Collections Online OR.001328

Songbirds are perhaps our most familiar birds, including most of the species that visit our gardens. They also include our best-known extinct bird – the huia, which has been extinct for about a century. Many people blame hunting by humans (for specimens to sell to collectors, or for the much-prized tail feathers) for the huia’s… Read more »

Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 1 – A diverse menagerie, sadly departed

  • Skull ofNew Zealand owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae). Te Papa Collections Online S.022454
  • Skull of the enigmatic Forbes’ snipe (Coenocorypha chathamica); Te Papa Collections Online S.025428. How did two snipe species co-exist on the Chatham Islands?
  • Skull of Eyles’ harrier (Circus teauteensis). Te Papa Collections Online S.033635
  • This South Island snipe (Coenocorypha iredalei) was photographed in 1964 during a failed rescue attempt after rats invaded its last island refuge. Image: Don Merton, New Zealand Birds Online

Few New Zealanders are aware how many bird species have been lost since people first reached New Zealand less than 800 years ago. The number of named extinct species continues to increase, largely due to careful examination of bones from Chatham Island dunes and caves, but is currently 53 species – an appalling indictment of… Read more »

Floor talk about Te Papa’s science


Would you like to know more about the scientific research carried out by Te Papa? Our natural history research programme encompasses tiny invertebrates to plants, and spans the ocean depths to high-flying birds. For those in Wellington, Science Curator Leon Perrie will give a floor talk in the DeCLASSIFIED! exhibition space on Thursday 2nd April,… Read more »

A ROARsome Family Fun Day

The dinosaurs took over Te Papa yesterday on our ROARsome Family Fun Day, and by all accounts, it went down an absolute treat! We started by making our own three-dimensional dinosaur tails (and wings, beaks, hats as creativity ensued). These we decorated with all sorts of craft materials and felt pens, making each quite unique to its owner…. Read more »

Colossal New Addition to Te Papa’s Scientific Collections

  • Storage11
  • Powder Coated Cabinet
  • Jar and pail storage at Te Papa's collections facility. Photo: Rick Webber, Copyright Te Papa.
  • jars

Today we’ve been hearing about the most recent addition to Te Papa’s scientific collections, a new colossal squid Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni. We’re playing host to a dozen or so media representatives as well as our own live-streaming film crew, who are following intently the activity of five visiting squid scientists from AUT, led by Dr Kat… Read more »

Tū whitia te hopo | Feel the fear and pronounce it anyway! Tip 2

Arohatia te Reo logo

Having trouble pronouncing kupu Māori? Here our next tip from kaiako Joan Costello. Tip 2 Split syllables after vowels and before consonants. Mo/ko/we/ri                            Dinosaur (mo, ko = Or    we = There   ri = Three) Mo/ko/hi/ku/roa                    Tyrannosaur (mo, ko = Or     hi = Three     ku = Two   ro = Or     a = Are) Remember to use Tip 1 ‘Are There Three Or Two’ This anga pōhatu is not a mokohikuroa, but… Read more »

Elephant bird DNA reveals that the Kiwi is not an Aussie

Alan Cooper holds a giant elephant bird leg bone in front of a kiwi skeleton for media as Alan Tennyson looks on. Photo: Jean-Claude Stahl © Te Papa

A study published in the journal Science today reveals a new and unexpected origin for New Zealand’s iconic kiwi and overturns the previous idea that the ancestors of kiwi flew directly over from Australia (see Miocene fossils show that Kiwi are probably not phyletic dwarves, Paleornithological Research 2013, and St Bathan’s kiwi – NZ Birds Online). … Read more »

Tell our scientists which coastal creatures you’d like to know more about in Science Live: Coastal creatures. Email with your suggestions! Walking along many of the beaches in my native UK, I had my head down, ignoring the beautiful view and the pounding waves of the slate grey sea. Instead, I’d be scanning the rocks for fossils,… Read more »