Pyramid prion (Pachyptila pyramidalis). Image Alan Tennyson (NZ Birds Online).

New DNA research by Science Researcher Lara Shepherd and Vertebrate Curators Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson has revealed parallel evolution in the small seabirds called prions. This unexpected result requires recognition of an eighth species of prion. Their research also revealed that all the birds formerly known as ‘fulmar prions’ are endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand. This means that we have gained two additional endemic bird species, and Australia has lost a breeding species.Read more

Tongue of a defrosted broad-billed prion.

Genetic research requires a small amount of tissue from animal or plant specimens to be destroyed in order to obtain DNA. Te Papa’s bird team recently pondered the best way to sample tissue for DNA whilst causing a minimal amount of damage to seabird specimens. In July 2011 a periodRead more