New extinct duck found in Central Otago first name


A recently discovered extinct duck may hold the key to dating other ancient finds in the Otago region.

The researchers working together – from the Canterbury Museum and three Australian universities – were excited about the impact of the find on understanding the natural history of the region.

The little diving duck was given the name Manuherikia primadividua and appears to have lived between 16 and 19 million years ago.

It was found in an old lake bed in St Bathans, Otago.

St Bathans holds Aotearoa’s best-known land animal fossils, which are rarely found in this country.

Paleontologists working at the St Bathans excavation site.

Trevor Worthy, a researcher at Flinders University in Adelaide, said the heart of this discovery was the positioning of the duck in the fossil layers.

“We didn’t find these two ducks in the same fossil layer, and we think that’s because they lived at different times, with Manuherikia primadividua eventually surpassing and replacing its older cousin.”

The change in species provides key information about climatic and environmental changes at the time.

The discovery will also allow researchers to chronologically categorize pre-discovered animals for the first time, with the two ducks in different layers of fossils pointing to a similar story for other species.

The Canterbury Museum’s senior curator, Paul Scofield, said the find underscored the importance of understanding which layer a fossil was positioned in.

“You might think, ‘Oh, it’s just another dead duck,’ but it’s an important step in building a picture of how the animals and plants living on this ancient lake have changed over time. time.”

Excavations at the bed of Lake St Bathans have taken place since 2001, where scientists have found over 40 ancient bird species.

Fossils of bats, turtles and a crocodile have also been discovered, upending assumptions about the evolution of natural fauna in Aotearoa.


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