Posts categorized as Fossils

Tales from Te Papa: Iguanodon tooth

The Country of the Iguanodon, 1837 by John Martin (1789–1854), watercolour. Gift of Mrs Mantell-Harding, 1961. Image © Te Papa.

In 1825, Gideon Mantell described fossil teeth and bones from a quarry near Cuckfield in Sussex, England. He named these remains ‘Iguanodon’ meaning ‘having teeth like those of an Iguana’ (a lizard), but he correctly determined that they were quite unlike the teeth of any known lizard or mammal. He is credited with being the… Read more »

New Zealand’s dinosaur expert passes away

  • Dinosaur toe bone found by Joan Wiffen
  • Dinosaur toe bone found by Joan Wiffen
  • Dinosaur toe bone found by Joan Wiffen
  • Dinosaur toe bone, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tonagarewa

Joan Wiffen, who found hard evidence that dinosaurs had inhabited New Zealand, died this month aged 87. I’m not a scientist, but I do have an interest in the history of science, and even I can see that Wiffen made historically significant and far-reaching contributions to scientific thinking. First findings In 1975, Wiffen found something remarkable in a remote stream… Read more »

The deluge and the ark

Curator of Fossil Vertebrates, Alan Tennyson, excavating the St Bathans site in Otago. Image copyright Te Papa

Recently, a group of researchers in New Zealand suggested that the absence of fossils between 25 and 22 million years ago indicated that the islands completely disappeared under water, and then later re-emerged. But a newly discovered fossil reptile suggests this theory does not hold water. Alan Tennyson, Curator of Fossil Vertebrates at Te Papa,… Read more »