Evolutionary Edge

Soil-analysis undertaken in a NZ cave has uncovered a rich and previously unknown evolutionary heritage. A team of scientists have found DNA traces of an extinct animal and from plants alive 3,000 years before the first human arrivals. The ancient Gondwanan biota isolated in NZ represents a unique evolutionary experiment, free to evolve in isolation from mammalian predators in response to complex geological and climatic history. Unravelling our amazing DNA is the speciality of Oxford-based palaeontologist Professor Alan Cooper, described as ‘Wellington’s own Indiana Jones’, who recently returned to NZ to lecture on our amazing evolutionary past.

Tags: extinct animals  palaeontology  Prof Alen Cooper  Seattle Times  Wellington