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

 

Oldest fossil tropicbird found in Waipara, North Canterbury


Oldest fossil tropicbird found in Waipara, North Canterbury

Researchers from Canterbury Museum and Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, have discovered near Waipara/North Canterbury (on New Zealand’s South Island), what is probably the oldest example of a relative of today’s tropicbirds.

The fossil bones were found by an amateur palaeontologist, Leigh Love, in the Waipara Greensand, in strata that are about 60 million years old. Mr Love made headlines last year when a fossil he found nearby was recognised by the same team as belonging to an unknown group of flying seabirds and was named Australornis lovei.

Today tropicbirds inhabit the warm waters of the tropical and sub-tropical oceans. The red-tailed tropicbird breeds in New Zealand only in the Kermadec Islands, ranging south to Northland and occasionally further south in the summer. This fossil shows that in the tropical early Paleocene period – just after the event that caused the extinction of dinosaurs - tropicbirds inhabited the waters surrounding the whole of Zealandia (the ancient sub-continent New Zealand was once part of).

Until the discovery of this fossil, all other reported fossil tropicbirds finds were in the northern hemisphere and it had been assumed that tropicbirds had spread from Laurasia, the northern supercontinent neighbour of Gondwana.

“The new fossil is an exciting find as it helps our understanding of how tropicbirds evolved. This fossil can be directly linked to fossil finds of previously unknown origins: the first from the late Cretaceous period (about 70 million years ago) which was found in New Jersey, USA and several fossils from the late Paleocene period (about 58 million years ago) found in Morocco and central Asia,” says Dr Paul Scofield, Senior Curator Natural History at Canterbury Museum and Adjunct Professor of Paleontology at the University of Canterbury, a co-author of the study.

Dr Gerald Mayr, Curator of Birds at Senckenberg Museum says: “The discovery of this fragmentary fossil give us the earliest insight into the evolution of one of the most enigmatic lineages of seabirds”.

Dr Scofield and Dr Mayr have published their research findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology today.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 


Reserve Bank: A least regrets approach to uncertainty

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua makes decisions about official interest rates in a way that is robust in the face of uncertainty about the economy, Reserve Bank Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby says in a speech published today*... More>>




Shocking Stuff: Lower Income Areas Paying More For Power

Analysis from Consumer NZ and Powerswitch has found major differences in electricity pricing depending on where you live, with those in lower income areas being hit the hardest... More>>



Science Media Centre: Understanding DDoS cyber attacks – Expert Reaction

Cyber attacks have hit several New Zealand organisations this month, disrupting their online services. The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were the same kind of cyber attack that affected the NZX around this time last year... More>>



Statistics: GDP rises in the June 2021 quarter

Gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 2.8 percent in the June 2021 quarter, following a 1.4 percent increase in the March 2021 quarter, Stats NZ said today. June 2021 quarter GDP was 4.3 percent higher when compared with the December 2019 quarter... More>>


Energy-from-waste: $350 Million Plant To Deliver Renewable Energy Considered

Investigations have begun into the viability of building an Energy-from-Waste plant that will safely convert 350,000 tonnes of waste, that would otherwise be dumped into South Island landfills annually, into renewable electricity... More>>

Olam: Confirms plans for commissioning of NZ dairy plant

OFI, a global leader in natural and sustainable food ingredient solutions, today confirmed plans to develop a new dairy processing facility at Tokoroa. It is now taking expressions of interest from potential farmer suppliers, employees, contractors, and general trade suppliers... More>>