Tag Archives: North Island

Tymbopiptus valeas Kuschel

Giant Waitomo Weevil (Tymbopiptus valeas)

The Giant Waitomo Weevil was described in 1987, it is one of the first New Zealand insects to have been described based on subfossil remains.

The remains were recovered from deposits of at least two localities in the Waitomo District in the west of the North Island of New Zealand, one of them being the Buried Forest of Pureora, a site that was formed by pumice ejected during an eruption of Taupo crater at around 186 AD..

The Giant Waitomo Weevil was a very large species, it reached a length of up to 2 to 2,3 cm and was 0,75 to 0,92 cm wide. [1]

***

Many of the larger beetle species dissapeared from the New Zealand main islands as soon as the first Polynesian people arrived here and brought with them Polynesian Rats (Rattus exulans (Peale)), which predated on these large insects; some of the species were widespread and thus survived on rat-free offshore islands while others, that were restricted to certain parts of the main islands, just went extinct.

*********************

References:

[1] G. Kuschel: The subfamily Molytinae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): general notes and descriptions of new taxa from New Zealand and Chile. New Zealand Entomologist 9: 11-29. 1987
[2] Corinne H. Watts; Maureen J. Marra; Chris J. green; Lynette A. Hunt; Danny Thornburrow: Comparing fossil and extant beetles in central North Island forests, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 49(1): 1-20. 2019

*********************

Photo: Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

*********************

edited: 05.11.2020

Cotes sp. ‘Benneydale’

Benneydale Ant-like Flower Beetle (Cotes sp.)

The genus Cotes is endemic to New Zeland, all of the about eight species currently assigned to it are probably feeding on decaying plant material.

***

The Benneydale Ant-like Flower Beetle is known only from subfossil remains that were recovered from deposits near Benneydale, a small town in the Waitomo District of western North Island, New Zealand.

This species appears to be extinct now.

*********************

References:

[1] Corinne H. Watts; Maureen J. Marra; Chris J. green; Lynette A. Hunt; Danny Thornburrow: Comparing fossil and extant beetles in central North Island forests, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 49(1): 1-20. 2019

*********************

edited: 05.11.2020

Pycnomerus sp. ‘Benneydale’

Benneydale Ironclad Beetle (Pycnomerus sp.)

This up to now undescribed species is known exclusively from subfossil remains that were recovered from deposits near Benneydale, a small town in the Waitomo District of western North Island, New Zealand. [1]

The species is now extinct, it is one of countless large insect species that were eaten into extinction by Polynesian Rats (Rattus exulans (Peale)) that had been introduced by the ancestors of the Maori when they first arrived in New Zealand.

*********************

References:

[1] Corinne H. Watts; Maureen J. Marra; Chris J. green; Lynette A. Hunt; Danny Thornburrow: Comparing fossil and extant beetles in central North Island forests, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 49(1): 1-20. 2019

*********************

edited: 05.11.2020

Schizoglossa major Powell

Giant Paua Snail (Schizoglossa major)

The Giant Paua Snail is known only from subfossil shells that had been found in the Waikato region in the northern part of the North Island of New Zealand.

The shells could grow to a size of about 5 cm, that means the snails body might have reached lengths of about 15 cm.

The species very likely was among the first that were extirpated by the rats that had been imported by the first Polynesian settlers in the 13th century.

*********************

edited: 21.04.2022

Stigmella maoriella (Walker)

Maori Pigmy Moth (Stigmella maoriella)

This species is known from three male specimens that were collected sometimes prior to 1854 at or near the city of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand.

The species has not been recorded since and is considered possibly extinct by some authors, however, it might in fact be still existing since all members of its family are extremely small and understudied. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Hans Donner; Christopher Wikinson: Nepticulidae (Insecta: Lepidoptera). Fauna of New Zealand 16: 1-92. 1989

*********************

edited: 25.05.2021

Lepidium amissum de Lange & Heenan

Waitakere Scurvy Grass (Lepidium amissum)

The Waitakere Scurvy Grass was described in 2013 in the curse of a genus revision, it is known only from four herbarium sheets one of which had been collected in 1870 and the other three in 1917.

The species was restricted to the coastlines of the Waitakere Ranges on the North Island of New Zealand. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] P. J. de Lange; P. B. Heenan; G. J. Houliston; J. R. Rolfe; A. D. Mitchell: New Lepidium (Brassicaceae) from New Zealand. PhytoKeys 24: 1-147. 2013

*********************

Photo from: ‘P. J. de Lange; P. B. Heenan; G. J. Houliston; J. R. Rolfe; A. D. Mitchell: New Lepidium (Brassicaceae) from New Zealand. PhytoKeys 24: 1-147. 2013’

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

*********************

edited: 16.09.2019

Ninox albifacies ssp. rufifacies (Buller)

North Island Laughing Owl (Ninox albifacies ssp. rufifacies)

The North Island Laughing Owl, described in 1904, inhabited the North Island of New Zealand; it is said to have differed from the nominate race by its more rufous feathers.

The species was already rare in the 19th century after having been widespread in earlier times.

The owl was last seen in 1989.

*********************

Depiction from: ‘Walter Lawry Buller: Supplement to the ‘Birds of New Zealand’ Vol. 2. London: the author 1905’

(public domain)

*********************

edited: 05.11.2021

Trilepidea adamsii (Cheeseman) Tiegh.

Adams’ Mistletoe (Trilepidea adamsii)

Adams’ Mistletoe was described in 1880, it is one of several mistle species that are endemic to New Zealand; it was apparently restricted to a few sites on the North Island of New Zealand. It was preferably growing on mamangi (Coprosma arborea Kirk.).

The species was last seen in 1954 on Sanitorium Hill, Maungakawa, near the Waikato town of Cambridge.

The reasons for the extinction of this species appear to be unknown, it is often thought to have disappeared due to browsing by the indroduced Brushtail Possums (Didelphis vulpecula (Kerr)), however, this seems rather to be unlikely. [1]


*********************

References:

[1] David A. Norton: Trilepidea adamsii: An orbituary for a species. Conservation Biology 5(1): 52-57. 1991

*********************

Depiction by: Georgina Burne Hetley; about 1888

(public domain)

*********************

edited: 24.10.2020

Leiopelma markhami Worthy

Markham’s Frog (Leiopelma markhami)

Markham’s Frog was described in 1987 based on subfossil remains that were found both on the North- as well as the South Island of New Zealand.

The species was larger than the four surviving congeneric species, reaching a body size of about 5 to 6 cm. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy: Osteology of Leiopelma (Amphibia: Leiopelmatidae) and descriptions of three new subfossil Leiopelma species. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 17(3): 201-251. 1987

*********************

edited: 29.05.2019

Aoraia mairi (Buller)

Buller’s Swift Moth (Aoraia mairi)  

This species was described on the basis of a single specimen, which had been found in the year 1867 in the Ruahine Range on New Zealand’s North Island.  

The moth reached a wingspan of about 15 cm.  

The type specimen, unfortunately, was lost in the 19th century, all that remained is the depiction, produced for the species description.  

***

The caterpillars of the swift moths live in the wood of live and dead plants, they often reach remarkable sizes – some such giant caterpillars, which may have possibly turned out to be the larvae of Buller’s Swift Moth, had been found around 1985 in the Orongorongo Range on the North Island of New Zealand, however, they unfortunately died before they could pupate.  

*********************

Depiction from: ‘W. L. Buller: Notice of a New Species of Moth in New Zealand. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 5: 279-280. 1872’  

(public domain)

*********************

edited: 22.09.2020

Lepidium obtusatum Kirk

Obtuse-glanded Scurvy Grass (Lepidium obtusatum)

The Obtuse-glanded Scurvy Grass was described in 1892, the species were known from two populations on the North Island of New Zealand: one at the coastline of the Waitakere Ranges, and another one on the Miramar peninsula on the southeastern side of the city of Wellington.

The first of these population disappeared around 1917, the other one from Wellington was last seen in 1950, thus the species is now considered extinct. 

The species is furtermore known to have hybridized with a close relative, Cook’s Scurvy Grass (Lepidium oleraceum G. Forst. ex Sparrm.) with which it grew sympatrically at at least one site, Seatoun, a suburb of Wellington. [1]

***

For a very short glimpse of time this species was about to “rise from the dead” – seeds, collected from a specimen that had been collected in the late 1930s was sown in 1993, and it indeed begun to germinate!

However, this experiment did not succeeded because the seedlings died shortly after.

*********************

References:

[1] P. J. de Lange; P. B. Heenan; G. J. Houliston; J. R. Rolfe; A. D. Mitchell: New Lepidium (Brassicaceae) from New Zealand. PhytoKeys 24: 1-147. 2013

*********************

Photo from: ‘P. J. de Lange; P. B. Heenan; G. J. Houliston; J. R. Rolfe; A. D. Mitchell: New Lepidium (Brassicaceae) from New Zealand. PhytoKeys 24: 1-147. 2013’

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

*********************

edited: 16.09.2019

Leiopelma waitomoensis Worthy

Waitomo Frog (Leiopelma waitomoensis)

The Waitomo Frog was described in 1987 based on subfossil bones that were excavated from a cave near the village of Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand.

The species was about twice the size of all other endemic New Zealand frogs, reaching a body length of nearly 10 cm. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy: Osteology of Leiopelma (Amphibia: Leiopelmatidae) and descriptions of three new subfossil Leiopelma species. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 17(3): 201-251. 1987

*********************

edited: 29.05.2019

Waitomophylax worthyi (Leschen & Rhode)

Worthy’s Waitomo Beetle (Waitomophylax worthyi)

Worthy’s Waitomo Beetle was described in 2002 based on subfossil material that was recovered from Holocene deposits from a cave in the Waitomo region on the north Island of New Zealand.

The remains are nearly complete and the species had reached a size of about 2,45 cm in length making it the largest known member of its family.

Worthy’s Waitomo Beetle was flightless which made it especially vulnerable to predation by introduced mammals like rats. [1][2]

*********************

References:

[1] Richard A. B. Leschen; Birgit E. Rhode: A new genus and species of large Ulodidae (Coleoptera) from New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist 25(1): 57-64. 2002
[2] Richard A. B. Leschen; Birgit E. Rhode: A replacement name for Archaeophylax Leschen and Rhode (Coleoptera: Ulodidae). New Zealand Entomologist 27: 125. 2004

*********************

edited: 26.04.2021

Anagotus sp. ‘Waitomo’

Waitomo Tussock Weevil (Anagotus sp.)  

The Waitomo Tussock Weevil is an up to date undescribed species that is known from several subfossil remains that were recovered from the deposits of a 14 m deep vertical limestone shaft on a farm in the Fred Cave Catchment in the Waitomo District in western North Island, New Zealand; additional material (at least one elytron) was also found in the deposits of the so-called Buried Forest of Pureora, which was buried under pumice ejected during an eruption of Taupo crater at around 186 AD..

It was a very large species, reaching a length of about 2,5 cm; it is a member of the species group that includes the Tussock Weevil (Anagotus lewisi (Broun)), thus is believed to have been associated with species of the native tussock grass (Chionochloa sp.) too.

The species is extinct, it fell victim to the Pacific Rats (Rattus exulans (Peale)), introduced by the Maori.  

*********************  

References:  

[1] G. Kuschel: The subfamily Molytinae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): general notes and descriptions of new taxa from New Zealand and Chile. New Zealand Entomologist 9: 11-29. 1987
[2] Corinne H. Watts; Maureen J. Marra; Chris J. green; Lynette A. Hunt; Danny Thornburrow: Comparing fossil and extant beetles in central North Island forests, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 49(1): 1-20. 2019

*********************  

edited: 05.11.2020

Cygnus sumnerensis ssp. sumnerensis Forbes

New Zealand Swan (Cygnus sumnerensis ssp. sumnerensis)

The New Zealand Swan was described in 1890 based on subfossil remains, which, however, were apparantly lost later. The name was then declared a nomen nudum and the species was redescribed (using only bones from Chatham Islands birds) as Cygnus chathamensis Oliver in the 1950s. [1]

***

The species was for some time thought to have been identical to the Australian Black Swan (Cygnus atratus Latham) (see photo), a species that was deliberately introduced to New Zealand in 1864, though there is evidence for self-introduction around this time and possibly prior to this. [1]

The remains of the New Zealand Swan were compared to those of the Australian species and it was found that both differed significantly from each other by their size, but only in 2017 DNA samples were compared which showed that both swan forms were indeed distinct from each other. The New Zealand Swan was closely related to the Australian Black Swan but differed from it by being larger and more stoutly build, it is furthermore split into two subspecies, one, the nominate, formerly inhabiting the main islands and one having been endemic to the Chatham Islands. [1]

*********************

References:

[1] Nicolas J. Rawlence; Afroditi Kardamaki; Luke J. Easton; Alan J. D. Tennyson; R. Paul Scofield; Jonathan M. Waters: Ancient DNA and morphometric analysis reveal extinction and replacement of New Zealand’s unique black swans. Proceedings of Royal Society B. Biological Science 284: 20170876. 2017

*********************

Australian Black Swan (Cygnus atratus Latham)

Photo: Anagoria

(under creative commons license (3.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

*********************

edited: 17.04.2019

Heteralocha acutirostris (Gould)

Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris)  

The Huia is a very well-known extinct bird, it is furthermore well-known especially for its remarkable sexual dimorphism with the males and females differing so much from each other in the form and length of their beaks, that originally both sexes were described as distinct species respectively (see depiction below, which shows the heads of the female above, described as Neomorpha acutirostris Gould and the male below, described as Neomorpha crassirostris Gould).  

***

DNA investigations on stuffed specimens in 2009 showed that some of the short-billed, alleged male individuals in fact were females; it is now assumed that probably all females had short beaks like the males when they were young, which then started to elongate subsequently. [1]  

***

The species originally inhabited all parts of North Island, New Zealand, but was already pushed back to a few areas with small relict populations by the Maori in pre-European times.  

The final end, however, came when the tail feathers, highly prized by some of the Maori tribes, were “discovered” by the European fashion industry as accessory for hats. The birds were shot in great numbers, and the former dense forests were cut down.  

The last Huia were finally seen at the beginning of the 20th century, but there are sometimes rumors that they may survive somewhere in the deep forest of New Zealand’s North Island, yet, no such forest exists any longer, thus the Huia is and will stay extinct.  

*********************  

References:  

[1] David M. Lambert; Lara D. Shepherd; Leon Huynen; Gabrielle Beans-Picón; Gimme H. Walter; Craig D. Millar. The Molecular Ecology of the Extinct New Zealand Huia: PLoS ONE 4(11): e8019. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0008019. 2009  

*********************

Depiction from: ‘John Gould: A synopsis of the Birds of Australia and the adjacent islands. London 1837-38’  

(public domain)

*********************  

edited: 31.10.2017