A late Pleistocene predator-accumulated avifauna from Kids Cave, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Trevor H. Worthy, J. X. Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A fossil deposit excavated from the floor of Kids Cave, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand, is interpreted as having been primarily accumulated by New Zealand falcon Falco novaeseelandiae, with some contribution by Haast's eagle Harpagornis moorei. The fauna is rich: 3699 bones represented 41 bird species, two frog species, unspecified geckoes and skinks, and one bat species. Fossil deposition was mainly within the Last Glacial Maximum from about 22,000 cal yr bp to about 15,000 cal yr bp, with a marked change in sediment characteristics at the onset of the LGM's coldest period. Chronological control is given by three Uranium-series dates for a speleothem and radiocarbon AMS dating of four avian eggshell samples and one bone. The fauna is the first extensive predator accumulation of LGM age described from the West Coast of the South Island, and it indicates a palaeoenvironment of a mosaic of shrublands with forest patches. The onset of the coldest part of the LGM (Aurora 3 glacial advance, 19,500 - 19,000 cal yrs bp) saw marked climate cooling/drying affecting the site, but the avifauna indicates that although open-country taxa became more common in this period, some forest persisted nearby throughout the remainder of the LGM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Kids cave
  • Late glacial maximum
  • Late pleistocene
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Raptor-accumulated avifauna
  • South island
  • West coast


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