More news from the squid tank. This morning I caught up with Robert Clendon the conservator who is looking after the work on the squid. Over the past few weeks we’ve been a bit concerned about the hooks on the tentacles and the arms. It looked as though the hooks could beRead more

On Tuesday we started remedial work on the colossal squid and her tank. Things are going very well and to schedule. Yesterday we put up the barriers around the tank and lifted up the huge lid, using a forklift. We then drained most of the liquid out of the tank.Read more

Science curator Leon Perrie explains ‘Punga’ is a quintessential Kiwi word used to refer to tree ferns or sometimes, more specifically, the trunks of tree ferns. Read more

Botany has recently acquired a unique collection: a special group of calcified red algae known as the corallines. Coralline algae are abundant and ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans, playing very important roles in marine ecosystems. The encrusting, or crustose, species can form unusual lumpy, warty-looking layers in the intertidal, sometimesRead more

The maidenhair spleenwort is a spleenwort fern (Asplenium) that (supposedly) looks like a maidenhair fern (Adiantum, see below). The 600 or so of the world’s spleenworts are characterised by having their reproductive structures in lines away from the margins of their fronds’ undersides. Two maidenhair spleenworts occur in New Zealand.Read more

In honour of Valentine’s Day this post will look at the wonderful world of courtship in the spider genus Latrodectus, more commonly known as the widow spiders. Readers of my previous post will recall this genus includes species such as the American black widow (Latrodectus mactans), the Australian redback (L.Read more

Skin Deep Differences Don’t Matter in Katipo Having spent my last two postings dealing with butterflies and moths, it’s time to move on to the animals I love the most – spiders! The subject of this posting is the katipo spider (Latrodectus katipo), New Zealand’s only endemic spider known toRead more

By Chris Paulin and Alan Tennyson 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 notRead more

This post is inspired by Smiv’s reminiscences about cinnabar moth caterpillars when commenting on my previous blog entry. Also, as adult cinnabar moths are on the wing this time of year in New Zealand summer and sightings always generate a number of calls to Te Papa’s entomology department, I thoughtRead more

Caterpillar chews on a stem of a leaf

In the summer months I get plenty of phone calls and emails from monarch butterfly fanciers, all with a common problem: “My swan plants are almost stripped bare yet I have so many monarch butterfly caterpillars I really don’t know what to do. Is there anything else I can feedRead more

Last weekend, when I should have been writing grant applications, I was dragged out for a bush-walk. However, my arm didn’t have to be twisted too hard, since it was a fine day and the track between Kiriwhakapapa and Blue Range is lovely (although steep). Alseuosmia pusilla was abundant alongRead more

Field-work is one of the best aspects of working as a Natural Environment curator at Te Papa. I get to spend about three weeks a year in the field collecting plant specimens. I’ve recently returned from ten days field-work in the South Island, collecting samples for our research on lancewoodRead more