Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 

Snappy discovery leads to award for fossil-hunter


Leading Hawke’s Bay conservationist Pete Shaw has been recognised by the Geoscience Society of New Zealand for his work on fossils in the Maungataniwha Native Forest. He has been awarded the Harold Wellman Prize for the discovery of important fossil material in New Zealand, including the largest mosasaur tooth on record here.

Mr Shaw is a trustee of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust, which owns a property in the Maungataniwha Native Forest. The citation for his award says he has discovered fossils from numerous species of reptiles and outcrops rich in molluscan remains, while also expanding significantly “in a geographic sense” on the work of renowned New Zealand palaeontologist Joan Wiffen, forging routes into remote places that she was never able to visit.

The Trust’s property at Maungataniwha is of national importance geologically as the site where Ms Wiffen first discovered evidence of land-dinosaur fossils in New Zealand. These fossil remains were extracted from cretaceous rock taken from the Mangahouanga Stream, which has the bulk of its catchment within this forest.

“If any one place is the epicentre of New Zealand palaeontology, Maungataniwha is probably it,” Mr Shaw said. “My interest in the fossil treasure-trove here was sparked by meeting the late Joan Wiffen, whose work truly was inspirational. We’re privileged to be able to curate this astonishing area for the people of New Zealand.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Maungataniwha continues to reveal a trove of fossilised riches; in June 2014 walkers stumbled across the fossil of an unusually large ammonite, a squid-like animal that lived in the sea during the time of the dinosaurs. It was here that Mr Shaw discovered the fossilised mosasaur jaw in March 2015.

He and DOC biodiversity ranger Helen Jonas were conducting a search for whio (Blue duck) up a small stream when Mr Shaw spotted a rock with a lump of bone in it. Ms Jonas was keen to see if the bone extended through the rock and Mr Shaw jumped into a nearby pool to fetch a branch with which to lever the rock loose.

While in the pool he felt something rough and lifted out another rock containing the fossilised jaw fragment.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.