Science

The dog is in the henhouse: did the kurī (Polynesian dog) have an impact on New Zealand’s wildlife? - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Dec 16, 2021

The hunter stalks its prey through the forest, following the wafting invisible trail of musky odor straight to the kiwi burrow. Within a few months, the dog has killed over 20 kiwi. You would think this event occurred recently, given the frequent headlines of dogs killing or attacking our unique wildlife, or the feral dog populations causing … Read More

The mystery of the moa: did these feathered giants call Rakiura Stewart Island home? - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Nov 15, 2021

The scientists shield their eyes from the howling wind and flying sand as they carefully uncover the precious skeleton. If it wasn’t for the absence of giant sandworms, this could have been a scene straight out of Dune. Alex Verry and Matt Schmidt are on Rakiura Stewart Island at West Ruggedy Beach excavating a significant taonga, a moa skeleton. Surrounding … Read More

The little frog with a big legacy - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Nov 11, 2021

In the bowels of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the little frog waited. In 2005 scientists had released its bones from its sediment tomb on the banks of the Waipara River in North Canterbury. The discoverers – Bruce Marshall, Phil Maxwell, and Al Mannering – had carefully collected the tiny bones that remained and deposited them in … Read More

How rainbow colour maps can distort data and be misleading - Guest Work

Guest Author Oct 07, 2021

Philip Heron, University of Toronto; Fabio Crameri, University of Oslo, and Grace Shephard, University of Oslo   The choice of colour to represent information in scientific images is a fundamental part of communicating findings. However, a number of colour palettes that are widely used to display critical scientific results are not only dangerously misleading, but also unreadable to a proportion … Read More

Celebrating Women in Space - Kidney Punch

John Pickering Oct 06, 2021

Beautiful, Inspiring, Mysterious!  How do you describe space?  What do you think when you look up at the stars?  The United Nations General Assembly certainly knew how beautiful, inspiring, mysterious, and important space is when they designated a week to be World Space Week.  That’s this week, and the theme for this year is Women in Space. There are numerous New Zealand women who … Read More

The earthquake that rattled Melbourne was among Australia’s biggest in half a century, but rock records reveal far mightier ones - News

Guest Author Sep 23, 2021

Mark Quigley, The University of Melbourne and Januka Attanayake, The University of Melbourne   An earthquake that struck near Melbourne today is one of the largest in Australia since instrumental seismic records began. However, the geological record of ground-breaking fault ruptures tells us much larger earthquakes have occurred across the continent. Some of these earthquakes would have been witnessed … Read More

Resolving a genetic mash-up: reconstructing an accurate evolutionary history of kākāriki - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Sep 10, 2021

Prioritising species conservation and over-stretched government funding is built upon an accurate understanding of evolutionary relationships and taxonomy. But what if that evolutionary history is wrong? More importantly, what are the consequences for endangered biodiversity as conservation funding and resources are re-assigned? Numerous examples have come to light in recent years where genetic techniques have shown previously recognised endangered or … Read More

Out of the fire and into a mad world: How human arrival in New Zealand resulted in a flightless insect - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Aug 22, 2021

When most people think of the consequences of humans arriving on an isolated island paradise, it wouldn’t be making an insect flightless. Most people would think about the rapid extinction of biodiversity and environmental modification that inevitably follows human arrival. In Aotearoa New Zealand this includes the sad loss of the giant megafaunal moa, pouakai Haast’s eagle, and … Read More

Weaving mātauranga Māori and science can empower Aotearoa - Mātau Taiao

Rosemary Rangitauira Jul 05, 2021

Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua – As man disappears, the land remains. This proverb embodies Dr Daniel Hikuroa’s ambition to look after the land while he’s here and highlights his passion to weave mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) with science. Dan affiliates to Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Whanaunga.   He specialises in many disciplines including Earth systems science, natural hazards … Read More

From Aptornis to Zosterops: What can be done about an extinction crisis 50,000 years in the making? - Lost Worlds, Vanished Lives

Nic Rawlence Jun 28, 2021

Conservation comes down to values. Do we only focus on the charismatic animals and the things we can see, or do we conserve the out-of-sight, out-of-mind Lilliputs? If that world collapses, you can be sure ours is next. I’m standing in the basement of our National Museum Te Papa Tongarewa surrounded by the ghostly remains of New Zealand’s bygone bird … Read More