Posts categorized as Science

The global hunt for the original wandering albatross

"Chocolate albatross" in Vienna

Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson explores the history of the name of the wandering albatross and the hunt for the original specimens. The wandering albatross is one of the world’s greatest ocean wanderers, with individuals circumnavigating the Southern Ocean and travelling 120,000 km in a year. These albatrosses have been among the most high-profile of seabirds ever since… Read more »

Congratulations to Pat Brownsey who has just been awarded the New Zealand Journal of Botany annual prize for 2016. In even-numbered years, this prize is for “established researchers”. This is “awarded to a person who has made a sustained contribution to the journal during the last five years (regularly publishing and reviewing papers), and whose… Read more »

DNA reveals relationships of the extinct Scarlett’s shearwater

Scarlett's Shearwater, Puffinus spelaeus, collected 18 Oct 1991, Te Ana Titi Cave, Fox River (station 131, cave metre grid -82N -98E), New Zealand. Field Collection 1986. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (S.028002)

Research scientist Lara Shepherd and vertebrate curator Alan Tennyson look at the relationships of extinct seabird, the Scarlett’s shearwater (Puffinus speleus) in a newly published paper. New Zealand is the seabird capital of the world with more endemic seabird species than anywhere else. But before humans arrived with their exotic predators we used to have even more species…. Read more »

Plague skinks invade the Coromandel

  • Marlborough green gecko (Naultinus manukanus). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Plague skink (aka rainbow skink). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink (Oligosoma aeneum). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Shore skink (Oligosoma smithi). Papa Aroha, January 2017. Image: Colin Miskelly

In my previous blog I listed four Australian bird species that have colonised the Coromandel Peninsula in the last four decades. But it is not only birds that are contributing to the Aussification of northern New Zealand. Australian plague skinks are now dominating the local lizard fauna. New Zealand lizards New Zealand has an astonishingly… Read more »

Wellington’s summer spiders

Male sheetweb spider

Ever felt like you’re removing more spiders from your home in summer compared to the rest of the year? Our bug expert Phil Sirvid explains why spiders are so prevalent in summer, and what kinds commonly turn up in Wellingtonian’s homes. The black-headed flax jumping spider While spider numbers in general are up during the warmer months,… Read more »

Sunshine, fishing – and changes in Coromandel birdlife over 45 years

  • Papa Aroha beach. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown teal, Papa Aroha, December 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Part of the Motukawao island group. Gannets nest on Motukaramarama (Bush) Island on the left. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Spotted shags, Firth of Thames. Image: Jenny Atkins, NZ Birds Online

From welcome swallows to Australian magpies, bird expert Colin Miskelly looks at the variety of birdlife who’ve come to call Coromandel home over the past half-century. Spending the summer at the beach is part of the great New Zealand holiday tradition. For many families, attachment to a particular location results in them returning to the… Read more »

The ‘It’s a Bug’s Life’ science education resource is here!

bugs-life-resource-te-papa-700x525

After 2 years of dedicated mahi (work), we are proud to share with you the It’s a Bug’s Life science education resource for ECE and Primary. Download the It’s a Bug’s Life resource This resource helps kaiako (educators – including those in the community and at home) to engage in science with young children (aged… Read more »

Whale tales from Dusky Sound: Nice smile, pity about the breath!

  • Time to move on into the sunset. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa.
  • Warts and all. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Pe Papa
  • Water spout in Dusky Sound. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa.
  • Boat inspection by one of the humpback whales. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa.

A Te Papa research team travelled to Dusky Sound: photographer Jean-Claude recalls a surprise encounter with bad-breathed whales. 15 November 2016. We had made good progress since leaving Doubtful Sound on the Southern Winds, the DOC boat that supports conservation programmes around southern New Zealand. We were now sailing past the tip of the Five… Read more »

The petrels of Dusky Sound

  • broad-billed-prion-adult
  • Broad-billed prion chick, Seal Islands, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Mottled petrel in spotlight beam, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl
  • Mottled petrel, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Have you ever wondered which New Zealand bird was the first to be given a published scientific name? The unlikely answer is the broad-billed prion, named as ‘Procellaria vittata’ by a 22-year-old Georg Forster in 1777. The second species was the little penguin (as ‘Aptenodytes minor’) named by Georg’s father, Reinhold Forster, four years later…. Read more »