Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tiny Bones Rewrite Textbooks: First New Zealand Land Mammal Fossil

Date:
December 14, 2006
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Small but remarkable fossils found in New Zealand will prompt a major rewrite of prehistory textbooks, showing for the first time that the so-called "land of birds" was once home to mammals as well.

Part of the fossilised jaw.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of New South Wales

Small but remarkable fossils found in New Zealand will prompt a major rewrite of prehistory textbooks, showing for the first time that the so-called "land of birds" was once home to mammals as well.

Related Articles


The tiny fossilised bones - part of a jaw and hip - belonged to a unique, mouse-sized land animal unlike any other mammal known and were unearthed from the rich St Bathans fossil bed, in the Otago region of South Island.

But the real shock to scientists was that it was there at all: until now, decades of searching had shown no hint that the furry, warm-blooded animals that thrived and prospered so widely in other lands had ever trodden on New Zealand soil.

The fact that even one land mammal had lived there, at least 16 million years ago, has put paid to the theory that New Zealand's rich bird fauna had evolved there because they had no competition from land mammals.

An international team led by Trevor Worthy, of the University of Adelaide, Alan Tennyson, of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Mike Archer, of the University of New South Wales, note that New Zealand separated from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana more than 80 million years ago. The research has been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This amazing find suggests that other mammals are waiting to be found there, and that New Zealand belonged to the birds only in more recent times," says Mr Worthy.

"It also suggests that New Zealand was not completely submerged, as some scientists thought, when sea levels were high about 25 to 30 million years ago."

The team believes that more mammal specimens may emerge, perhaps even other species that predate the split between pouched marsupials and live-bearing placental mammals.

The St Bathans fossil field - which has also produced many other species of animals, including fish and birds - also promises to shed new light on climate change in the Australasian region, recording a massive shift from a warm, wet phase to a much cooler and drier period.

"This promises to be a richly rewarding fossil field and the heraldic discovery of New Zealand's first non-flying mammal represents just the first page of a fascinating new chapter in the history of the world's mammals," says Professor Archer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Tiny Bones Rewrite Textbooks: First New Zealand Land Mammal Fossil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104202.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2006, December 14). Tiny Bones Rewrite Textbooks: First New Zealand Land Mammal Fossil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104202.htm
University of New South Wales. "Tiny Bones Rewrite Textbooks: First New Zealand Land Mammal Fossil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061213104202.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Gerbils, Not Rats, Might Be To Blame For The Black Death

Newsy (Feb. 24, 2015) The "black death" that killed tens of millions of people has been blamed on rats for years, but now researchers say they may have gotten a bad rap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

Timbuktu Manuscripts Face an Uncertain Future

AFP (Feb. 23, 2015) Two years ago a large number of manuscripts were taken from Timbuktu for safe keeping. Now the question is whether to return them. Duration: 02:50 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

How Did A Mummy End Up In A 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue?

Newsy (Feb. 23, 2015) A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Rare First Folio Arrives at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Feb. 23, 2015) A rare First Folio discovered in a French library arrives at the Shakespeare&apos;s Globe Theatre in London, where the Bard&apos;s plays were first performed. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins