Mammal Mystery Uncovered
NZ palaeontologist Trevor Worthy claims to have evidence that NZ once had an indigenous land mammal, challenging years of accepted scientific theory. Worthy and his team of researchers found two parts of a jaw and a femur of a mouse-like creature in Otago’s St Bathans fossil bed during digs between 2002-04. The creature is estimated to have lived in NZ 16-19 million years ago. “Scientists have long held the view that NZ has this weird and wonderful avian biota that lived on the ground because there were no mammals to impede or compete with birds,” says Worthy. “It appears that this little mouse-like animal was part of the fauna on the ancient Gondwana supercontinent and it got stuck on NZ when the latter separated more than 80 million years ago.” Worthy’s study has been published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.