Te Whare Taonga o Kororareka

Four Fossils – #158

A fish, two coconuts and a rock with embedded fossilized shells. What do they have in common? Two things – they’re all fossils and they’ve all ended up in Russell Museum’s collection. Only one was found here, the fish, at Long Beach. The coconuts are from near Coopers Beach, where they are common, from well known fossil plant beds which were once coastal forest. Like all the others found there, these coconuts are small, about four cm long. The species, Cocos zeylandica, is now extinct but provides evidence of warmer subtropical conditions in Northland, 16-11 million years ago. The shell-embedded rock was found in the Mohaka River, Hawkes Bay, only 60 kms from where Joan Wiffen and others have found fossils of dinosaurs, turtles, pterosaurs and marine reptiles. These date back 200 – 65 million years but the shells are undated. As our islands were almost totally, perhaps completely, underwater until about 25 million years ago, their occurrence far from the ocean is not surprising. The local fish, a similar size to the coconuts, probably lived much more recently. One estimate is that it may be 2 million years old. Just a youngster.