Posts categorized as Science

Albatross vs Shark

Seal shark head, jaws open showing teeth

This beauty and the beast tale did not end happily ever after for either character. Te Papa staff member Hokimate Harwood collected a rather smelly deceased albatross on Wellington’s south coast on 15 November. A Shark Tale In the lab we were astounded to see a shark’s tail protruding from its neck. When we cut… Read more »

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 turned 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, and… Read more »

Speargrass weevils thriving on Mana Island

  • A Wellington speargrass weevil browses on an Aciphylla squarrosa leaf, Mana Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Speargrass (Aciphylla squarrosa) in flower, Mana Island, November 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Feeding sign left by a Wellington speargrass weevil after browsing on an Aciphylla squarrosa flowerstalk, Mana Island, November 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Aerial view of the west coast of Mana Island, January 2015. Speargrass weevils were released at the left-centre of the image, between the track and the cliff-top. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Weevils get a lot of bad press. A few species are serious crop pests or despoilers of cereal products, and they give the rest of the family a bad name. In New Zealand, a dozen or so weevil species and populations are recognised as being threatened with extinction, and Wellington speargrass weevils (Lyperobius huttoni) are… Read more »

Scientists meet Scientists: ECE ‘Back of House’ visits (Group 3: Raumati South Kindergarten)

Identifying a kowhai plant using observation, Photographer: Te Papa, © Te Papa

Throughout 2015, young children from three Wellington regional Early Childhood Centres (ECE) have been thinking and working as scientists as part of the ‘It’s a Bugs Life’ partnership project with Te Papa Education. In celebration of the mahi (work), their teachers and educators from Te Papa arranged for the children to come and meet with more experienced scientists working here at Te Papa. In… Read more »

Goodbye to the lettuce liverwort – it’s going extinct

A cluster of Petalophyllum preissii plants, with my finger for scale. Photo Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

A highlight of my recent South Island fieldwork was helping to survey the last remaining New Zealand population of the liverwort Petalophyllum preissii.  It’s a distinctive looking plant, a bit like a little lettuce, and about the size of a fingernail. Seeing it was special because I likely won’t have the opportunity again.  You’ll probably never… Read more »

World Science Day: improving our knowledge using collections

Botany Collection Store: Te Papa has 300 000 botany specimens. Image: Antony Kusabs, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2015.

Today is World Science Day for Peace and Development, but science is happening at Te Papa every day . In addition to research being conducted within Te Papa, each year we also loan hundreds of science collection specimens to researchers all around the world. Researchers study our specimens to improve our collective knowledge of the natural world…. Read more »

Scientists meet Scientists: ECE ‘Back of House’ visits (Group 2: Kiwi Kids ECE)

Looking at a larger species of frog, Photographer: Amanda Rodgers, © Te Papa

Throughout 2015, young children from three Wellington regional Early Childhood Centres (ECE) have been thinking and working as scientists as part of the ‘It’s a Bugs Life’ partnership project with Te Papa Education. In celebration of the mahi (work), their teachers and educators from Te Papa arranged for the children to come and meet with more experienced scientists working here at Te Papa. In… Read more »

Scientists meet Scientists: ECE ‘Back of House’ Visits (Group 1: Imagine Childcare)

Ricardo sharing about beetles, Photographer: Imagine Childcare, © Te Papa

Throughout 2015, young children from three Wellington regional Early Childhood Centres (ECE) have been thinking and working as scientists as part of the ‘It’s a Bugs Life’ partnership project with Te Papa Education. In celebration of the mahi (work), their teachers and educators from Te Papa arranged for the children to come and meet with more experienced scientists working here at Te Papa. In… Read more »

Solomon Islands’ Expedition: the ferns

The frond underside of the weedy Pityrogramma calomelanos fern is coated in white powder. It can be knocked off to make fern patterns. Photos Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

During the recent expedition to central Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, my job was to document the ferns and lycophytes. This was at the invitation of Marika Tuiwawa (University of South Pacific) who led the expedition’s plant team. It built on my previous experience working with ferns in Fiji, New Caledonia, Australia, and New Zealand. (As… Read more »