Saturday, December 16, 2006
A long-held belief among paleontologists and mammalogists is that New Zealand never had indigenous mammals. The lack of mammalian competition was one factor in the diversity of bird life that developed on New Zealand, including the spectacular giant moas. Until now, there were no mammalian fossils to refute the idea. Now the remains of a mouse-sized creature, estimated at 16 million years old, have turned up. Tim Worthy, co-leader of the expedition that made the discovery, reported, "This amazing find suggests that other mammals are waiting to be found there, and that New Zealand belonged to the birds only in more recent times."