Posts categorized as Fossils

Sir James Hector, Hector’s dolphin and Taniwhasaurus

  • The new species of Asplenium fern. Photograph by Leon Perrie, Te Papa
  • Dr James Hector, circa 1868, Wellington, by James Wrigglesworth. Purchased 1916. Te Papa (O.013163)
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  • Hector's dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Dolphin Trust

Te Papa will turn 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?! 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa’ will be open on Level 3 from late November 2015 until the end of 2016. The exhibition,… Read more »

Introducing Imber’s petrel: a new recently extinct seabird species for New Zealand

Holotype of Imber’s petrel. Sampling bones for DNA typically involves drilling holes or cutting chunks out of them. However, for this bone we were able to soak DNA out of the bone without damaging it.

New Zealand has a new species of seabird. Te Papa scientists recently described Imber’s petrel (Pterodroma imberi) from the Chatham Islands as a new species. A previous study that measured a large number of seabird bones from the Chatham Islands found three size categories.   The largest bones belong to the Magenta petrel/taiko (Pterodroma magentae)… Read more »

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

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  • Jar and pail storage at Te Papa's collections facility. Photo: Rick Webber, Copyright Te Papa.
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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

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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 »