Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research reveals New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer


NZ Sea Lion. Photo: Louise Chilvers

Research reveals New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer
Embargoed until 11am Wednesday 14 May 2014

The modern New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer to our mainland, replacing a now-extinct, unique prehistoric New Zealand sea-lion that once lived here, according to a new study led by University of Otago researchers.

A team of biologists from the University of Otago estimates that this prehistoric mainland sea-lion population became extinct as recently as 600 years ago, and was then replaced by a lineage previously limited to the waters of the cold subantarctic.

The Marsden-funded study, carried out by Otago Zoology PhD student Catherine Collins, and led by Professor Jon Waters, set out to investigate changes in the New Zealand sea-lion population since human settlement.

Ms Collins says they were startled to identify a previously unknown sea-lion lineage that dominated South Island shores until just a few hundred years ago.

“It is estimated that the mainland sea-lions became extinct between 1300 and
1500AD, soon after Polynesian settlement, and midden remains suggest they were hunted extensively. The extinction apparently created an opportunity for the subantarctic lineage to colonise New Zealand’s mainland," she says.

The team identified the extinct mainland sea-lion lineage using ancient DNA from prehistoric bones.

“We found that the extinct mainland population was clearly genetically distinct from the modern subantarctic population that arrived more recently,” she says.

The unexpected finding closely mirrors a prehistoric extinction-replacement event for yellow-eyed penguins, recently detected by the same team led by Professor Waters.

“Our findings demonstrate that our current sea-lion population is not a declining remnant of an original mainland population, but rather represents a new arrival from the subantarctic,” he says.

“Competition between the two lineages may have previously prevented the subantarctic lineage from expanding northwards to the mainland of New Zealand."

Professor Waters adds that all they know for certain about the attributes of this prehistoric sea-lion is that it was genetically distinct from the modern sea-lion lineage. He anticipates that future study of the prehistoric remains will lead to a greater understanding of its biology.

The team’s findings have been published today in the international biological
research journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Fossils: Ancient Penguins Lived Alongside Dinosaurs?

Penguins are much older than previously thought and their evolution probably dates back to the days of the dinosaurs, according to research on the fossilised leg bone and toes of a giant ancient penguin found in rocks near Waipara, North Canterbury. More>>

No Voda/Sky: Commission Declines Clearance For Merger

The Commerce Commission has declined to grant clearance for the proposed merger of Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Power: IEA Report On New Zealand's Energy System

Outside of its largely low-carbon power sector, managing the economy’s energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions while still remaining competitive and growing remains a challenge. More>>

ALSO:

NASA: Seven Earth-Size Planets Around A Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Transport Case: Men Guilty Of Corruption And Bribery Will Spend Time In Jail

Two men who were found guilty of corruption and bribery in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) trial have been sentenced in the Auckland High Court today... The pair are guilty of corruption and bribery offences relating to more than $1 million of bribes which took place between 2005 and 2013 at Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport. More>>

ALSO:

Hager Raid: Westpac Wrong To Release Bank Records To Police

The Privacy Commissioner has censured Westpac Banking Corp for releasing without a court order more than 10 months of bank records belonging to the political activist and journalist Nicky Hager during a police investigation into leaked information published in Hager's 2014 pre-election book, 'Dirty Politics'. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news