Tag Archives: South Island

Damonita geminoropiformis Climo

Elliot’s Cave Snail (Damonita geminoropiformis)

This tiny snail species was described in 1981, it was originally known from only two specimens that were recovered from the deposits of Elliots Cave as well as ten that were found in the Ngarua Cave in the Takaka Valley. 

Some 103 specimens were subsequently recovered from the Hawke’s Cave in the 1990s; these deposits are dated to Otiran age (Late Pleistocene); however, it might have survived until the beginning of the Holocene and is thus mentioned here as well. 

The shells reach a size of about 0,3 cm in diameter and are highly furrowed. 

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References:

[1] T. H. Worthy; R. N. Holdaway: Quaternary fossil faunas from caves in Takaha Valley and on Takaka Hill, northwest Nelson, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 24(3): 297-391. 1994

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Photo: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/154902

(under creative commons license (4.0))
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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edited: 15.05.2021

Xanthorhoe bulbulata (Guenée)

South Island Yellow Looper Moth (Xanthorhoe bulbulata)

This species is endemic to the South Island of New Zealand and was once quite common.

The population of the species started to decline sometime after the 1940s and was recorded only twice since, once in 1979 and then again for the last time in 1991; since then, the species is lost and might in fact be completely extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Brian H. Patrick; Hamish J. H. Patrick; Robert J. B. Hoare: Review of the endemic New Zealand genus Arctesthes Meyrick (Lepidoptera, Geometridae, Laurentiinae) with descriptions of two new range-restricted species. Alpine Entomology 3: 121-136. 2019

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female
male

Photos: Manaaki Whenua
https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz

(under creative commons license (4.0))
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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edited: 27.04.2021

Ninox albifacies ssp. albifacies (G. R. Gray)

South Island Laughing Owl (Ninox albifacies ssp. albifacies)

The South Island Laughing Owl, as its name implies, was found on the southern main islands of New Zealand.

The species reached a size of about 32 cm; it is also known as whēkau, which is one of its Maori names, or as White-faced Owl.

Originally, the South Island Laughing Owl fed on birds and especially on geckos and skinks, whose subfossil remains still can be found at former roost sites, after the arrival of human settlers it also took mice and rats, and actually there exists at least one photograph that shows an owl with a mouse in its beak.

The species died out sometimes during the early 1920s.

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Depiction from: ‘George Dawson Rowley: Birds of New Zealand. Part 1. Ornithological Miscellany 1: 1.18. 1876’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Zelandiscus worthyi Climo

Worthy’s Disc Snail (Zelandiscus worthyi 

This species was described in the year 1989.  

Worthy’s Disc Snail is known only on the base of empty shells, which had been found on the floor of the Aurora cave near the city of Te Anau in the south of New Zealand’s South Island.  

The shells reach an average size of about 0,45 cm and are uniformly grey in color. [1][2]  

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References:  

[1] F. M. Climo: The panbiogeography of New Zealand as illuminated by the genus Fectola Iredale, 1915 and subfamily Rotadiscinae Pilsbry, 1927 (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Punctoidea: Charopidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16(4): 587-649. 1989 
[2] M. J. Heads; R. C. Craw; J. R. Grehan: Panbiogeography: Tracking the History of Life: Tracking the History of Life. Oxford University Press, USA 1999

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edited: 04.11.2020

Myosotis traversii var. cinerascens (Petrie) L. B. Moore

Greyish Forget-me-not (Myosotis traversii var. cinerascens)

The Greyish Forget-me-not, a subspecies of Traver’s Forget-me-not (Myosotis traversii Hook. f.), was restricted to exposed limestone cliff faces in the semi-alpine Castle Hill Basin in Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand.

The plant is known only from a handful of specimens collected in the 18th and 19th century, it was not found since and is thought to be possiblky extinct.

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edited: 04.09.2019

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]

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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

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edited: 29.05.2019

Megadyptes waitaha ssp. waitaha Boessenkool et al.

Waitaha Penguin (Megadyptes waitaha ssp. waitaha 

This species was described in 2009 based on numerous subfossil remains that were found on New Zealand’s South Island as well as on Stewart Island.  

These bones were originally assigned to the recent Yellow-eyed Penguin, locally known as Hoiho (Megadyptes antipodes (Hombron & Jacquinot)) (see photo), but were found not only to be smaller but also to differ genetically.  

The Waitaha Penguin disappeared shortly after the colonization of New Zealand by the Maori, sometimes between 1300 and 1500 AD. [1]  

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Only some 200 years after the extinction, the species was replaced by immigrating Yellow-eyed Penguins, whose main island populations are now threatened likewise with extinction, mainly by introduced predators. [2]  

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References:  

[1] Sanne Boessenkool; Jeremy J. Austin; Trevor H. Worthy; Paul Scofield; Alan Cooper; Philip J. Seddon; Jonathan M. Waters: Relict or colonizer? Extinction and range expansion of penguins in southern New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276(1658): 815–821. 2009 
[2] Nicolas J. Rawlence; George L. W. Perry; Ian W. G. Smith; R. Paul Scofield; Alan J. D. Tennyson; Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith; Sanne Boessenkool; Jeremy J. Austin; Jonathan M. Waters: Radiocarbon-dating and ancient DNA reveal rapid replacement of extinct prehistoric penguins: Quaternary Science Reviews 112: 59-65. 2015  

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Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)

Photo: Twiddlebat 

(under creative commons license (2.0)) 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

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edited: 06.11.2017

Xenicus longipes ssp. longipes (Gmelin)

Bushwren (Xenicus longipes ssp. longipes)

The Bushwren, called huru-pounamumatuhimatuhituhi, or piwauwau by the Maori, was a 9 to 10 cm small, nearly flightless bird that was originally found very abundantly in the dense forests of New Zealand’s three main islands, each inhabited by an endemic subspecies respectively.

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The nominate race was endemic to South Island, it was still very common in the middle of the 19th century, when Walter L. Buller in his “A history of the birds of New Zealand” wrote the following note.:

It is generally met with singly or in pairs, but sometimes several are associated, attracting notice by the sprightliness of their movements. They run along the boles and branches of the trees with restless activity, peering into every crevice and searching the bark for the small insects and larvae on which they feed. It is strictly arboreal in its habits, never being seen on the ground, in which respect it differs conspicuously from the closely allied species Xenicus gilviventris. It has a week but lively note, and its powers of flight are very limited.” [1]

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The Bushwren begun to disappear very quickly after Stoats (Mustela erminea L.) were introduced to New Zealand in the 1880s with the last official sigthing of birds of the nominate race having taken place in 1968 in the Nelson Lakes National Park in the northern part of South Island.

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References:

[1] Walter L. Buller: A history of the birds of New Zealand. London: John Van Voorst 1873

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(the two birds above)

Depiction from: ‘Walter L. Buller: A history of the birds of New Zealand. London: John Van Voorst 1873’

(public domain)

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edited: 17.04.2019

Myosotis laingii Cheeseman

Waiautoa Forget-me-not (Myosotis laingii)

The Waiautoa Forget-me-not was apparently endemic to a very small area at terraces adjacent to the Clarence River near Lake Tennyson in southern Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand.

The species is known only from some few specimens that were collected between 1860 and 1912, it has never been recorded since and is thus believed to be extinct.

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edited: 18.04.2019

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]

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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]

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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

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Australian Black Swan (Cygnus atratus Latham)

Photo: Anagoria

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

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edited: 17.04.2019

Deinacrida sp. ‘Canterbury’

Giant Canterbury Weta (Deinacrida sp.)

The Canterbury Museum houses about 5000 specimens of weta, some preserved in ethanol but most pinned, one of them is this enigmatic form that may or may not constitute a distinct species.

Not much is known about this one specimen besides that it was collected sometimes during the late 1880s in Canterbury, New Zealand, and that it apparently is a juvenile female.

If this form turns out to be indeed a distinct species, it is now extinct, since species of its genus only survive on some small offshore islands but not on New Zealand’s main islands.

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edited: 15.05.2021