GSNZ Taranaki branch meeting

7:30 PM

Disabled Citizens Craft Centre, 83 Hine Street, New Plymouth
GSNZ Branch event

Taranaki fossil seabirds: Bridging past and future
Speaker: Daniel Thomas (Convenor, GSNZ Palaeontology Special Interest Group)

Aotearoa is a globally important area for seabirds with around one-quarter of all living seabird species breeding in the region. Seabirds are culturally important and are used as indices of ecosystem health.

So, when did Aotearoa first become a biodiversity hotspot for seabirds? Will environmental challenges in the near future be similar to those ancestral seabirds faced in the past?

Fossils from Taranaki are helping to address these questions. The mid-Pliocene Tangahoe Formation (Waipipian stage, 3.36–3.06 Ma) forms the sea cliffs along the coast at Waihi Beach near Hāwera, and produces exquisite fossils of coastal and marine animals preserved inside concretions. Fossils from this location are providing a snapshot of Zealandia’s biodiversity. From these fossils we are learning when some seabird lineages first arrived into Zealandia, as well as discovering seabirds that don’t have living descendants.

This talk will highlight some of the amazing fossils found in southern Taranaki and will describe their global significance.