Posts tagged with ancient DNA

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 »

Phar Lap’s DNA

Te Papa Conservator Robert Clendon removes Phar Lap’s skull from the rest of the skeleton, before extracting one of the incisor teeth. Photo Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

Earlier this year, Te Papa received a request from scientists in Australia for a tooth sample from legendary race horse Phar Lap. The scientists are hoping to extract DNA from the tooth.  Then they will be able to compare Phar Lap’s DNA with other horses. Press release from the scientists attempting to obtain Phar Lap’s… Read more »

DNA finds kiwi’s origins: Introducing Stewie

Articulated kiwi skeleton from Te Papa's collection. Photo by Lara Shepherd.

A number of biological specimens in Te Papa’s collection, particularly old specimens, lack information about when and where they were collected. This information may have been lost since the specimen was collected or was simply not recorded at the time. However, all is not lost! Sometimes we can use DNA to determine where a specimen… Read more »

When did little spotted kiwi become extinct on the New Zealand mainland?

Map of the locations where three post-1940 little spotted kiwi were found (names in black type). Today’s little spotted kiwi all derive from birds that survived on Kapiti Island (red type). Base map supplied by Geographx (

Little spotted kiwi  only occur in New Zealand, where there are around 1500 individuals remaining.  They are the smallest kiwi species, about the size of a bantam hen, and are very susceptible to predation by introduced mammals, such as stoats and dogs.  Today they survive on predator-free offshore islands and the fenced mainland sanctuary Zealandia… Read more »