Terrestrial turtle fossils from New Zealand refloat Moa's Ark

Trevor H. Worthy, Alan Tennyson, Suzanne Hand, Henk Godthelp, Richard Scofield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Two fossils from the diverse St Bathans Fauna from Early Miocene sediments in New Zealand are described and identified as from a large, probably terrestrial turtle. They are the first freshwater or terrestrial turtles to have been reported from the Cenozoic of New Zealand. Recent authors have used the absence of turtles and species they considered unlikely to raft to New Zealand to debunk the long held theory that an element of the New Zealand fauna was ancient and vicariant and had evolved on what David Bellamy called Moa's Ark. The discovery that large non-marine turtles were once present in New Zealand adds to a growing and diverse list of terrestrial taxa known from Zealandia shortly after its maximum inundation in the Late Oligocene. Many of these taxa, including a diverse herpetofaunal component, represent lineages endemic to New Zealand and had poor dispersal capabilities, supporting the long held view that a part of the Zealandian fauna was vicariant in origin.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)72-76
    Number of pages5
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2011


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