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Palaeontology

Hamish Campbell, Institute of Geological & Nuclear Science, P.O. Box 30-368, Lower Hutt
Email: h.campbell_at_gns.cri.nz

 

New Zealand is particularly well-endowed with fossiliferous marine sequences of Cambrian to Recent age, and especially so for the Cenozoic and Pleistocene. Our oldest rocks and fossils are Early Cambrian. The terrestrial fossil record is limited but floras and palynofloras of Permian to Recent age are well documented and a single dinosaur locality of late Maastrichtian age is known.

Current themes of research and major interest in paleontology in New Zealand include the following: functional morphology, taxonomy, biostratigraphy, evolution, paleoecology, and biogeography of: plant fossils, meiospores, dinoflagellates, nannofossils, radiolaria, foraminifera, graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, bryozoans, molluscs, crinoids, echinoderms, ostracods, barnacles, conodonts, fish, whales, seals, penguins, late Pleistocene terrestrial faunas, and trace fossils.

The palaeontological community is surprisingly large for a small country. Some 25 professional palaeontologists are employed in New Zealand institutions (Crown Research, university, museum) and several are self-employed. There are also many other people who may be considered as retired palaeontologists, amateur palaeontologists, students or enthusiasts.