Posts categorized as Science

Highly sensitive – 19th August 175 years ago

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At 3pm on the 19th August 1839, a joint meeting of the Academie des Sciences and the Academie des Beaux-Arts, heard from the politician and scientist, François Arago, about the details of a process that produced unbelievably fine detail and extraordinarily subtle tonality. Louis Daguerre, who had been working on a light-sensitive process for about… Read more »

Are wingless fliers Nature’s best hitchhikers?

Left: A louse-fly carries a hitchhiking louse from a Japanese crow, attached to one of the fly’s abdominal hairs. Right: detail of same louse. Photos by Rokuro Kano, Tokyo, Japan. © Rokuro Kano

by Ricardo L. Palma, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates Evolving without wings, humans dreamed about flying for thousands of years… but only just over 100 years ago they invented a heavier-than-air machine which could fly and take them to the skies. However, long long ago, natural evolution had already provided the opportunity to fly to creatures… Read more »

The Iberian lynx and its unique louse

Male of the very endangered Iberian lynx louse, Felicola (Lorisicola) isidoroi Pérez & Palma, 2001. This is the only specimen known of this species, and is kept in the collection of the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid, Spain.

By Ricardo L. Palma, Curator of Terrestrial Invertebrates Managing the survival and conservation of animal species which are in danger of extinction has become a widespread activity in many parts of the world.  Until now, most of the conservation effort has been concentrated on birds and mammals, probably because they are relatively large, popular, warm… Read more »

What ferns were found during the ‘Find ferns…’ competition?

  • Button fern, Pellaea rotundifolia, was one of the most frequently reported ferns. Photo (c) Leon Perrie.
  • Hound's tongue, Microsorum pustulatum, was one of the most frequently reported ferns. Photo (c) Leon Perrie.
  • Male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas, is an introduced weed in New Zealand.  It was reported several times. Photo (c) Leon Perrie.
  • Mamaku, Cyathea medullaris, was one of the most frequently reported ferns.  Photo (c) Leon Perrie.

Thanks to those who entered our ‘Find ferns and win!’ competition as part of our Science Live: The Secret World of Ferns broadcast. And, congratulations to the lucky winner! Watch The Secret World of Ferns. Lots of different ferns were spotted – some 44 species. One of the interesting finds was reported by shona_t via… Read more »

The Moon: Getting up Close

Moon through GMT Sept 1873

“For thousands of years man has gazed up at the moon and wondered.” That’s roughly how those worthy documentary commentaries begin, isn’t it? Well, Te Papa’s forerunner museums responded to this curiosity in two acquisitions almost 100 years apart. The first was an 1873 photograph of the moon made by the Great Melbourne Telescope (GMT). This was one… 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 »