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The remains of a giant goose have been discovered in New Zealand

The remains of a giant goose have been discovered in New Zealand

The giant duck must have been about 70 centimeters long and weighed at least 2 kg.

For twenty years, researchers from the former gold and coal mining city of St. Pathans in New Zealand have been searching for fossil remains. And it pays off. Meanwhile, many animals that lived here millions of years ago have been discovered. In A new study Researchers are coming up with another amazing discovery. Because of one of New Zealand’s richest fossil sites, an endangered species of duck has been found.

Giant duck
As the invention of a large wing bone shows, it turns out to be a large specimen. Named Catriona, the duck must have looked like the heavenly Kasarka – a native New Zealand duck – but larger. For example, a giant duck can be up to 70 centimeters long and weigh at least 2 kg.

The wing bone of Catriona (left) is compared to the wing bone of another duck found in St. Pathans (right). Image: University of Otago

The biggest
It is not uncommon to find duck remains in St Bathans. In fact, duck bones are the most common bird bone found in St. Pathans. We already know seven types of ducks. But none of these are as big as Catriona. “This is the largest of the ducks found here,” said researcher Alan Dennison.

Giant birds

New Zealand is famous for its giant birds. Long ago, the big moss was dominated by giant ducks and eagles. In 2019, researchers also found fossil remains of the world’s largest branch near St. Pathans. This animal could compete with a dodo and weighed 7 kg. Incidentally, it is not uncommon for birds on the islands to grow from their seams and reach large sizes. Besides the parrot, a gigantic pigeon in Fiji, a giant stork in Flores and a gigantic duck in Hawaii have been dug up before. Giant owls and other predators dominated the Caribbean.

This discovery once again proves how rich the fauna of St. Pathans was at one time. Many exotic species such as flamingos and relatives of crocodiles have already been found here. The ancestors of the present Kiwi and Bridge lizards also lived here.

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Manuherikia Lake
All of these animals may have lived together around a vast, prehistoric lake called Lake Manuherikia. Thanks to the discovery of more and more fossil remains, we are expanding our knowledge of the fauna of that time. “The fauna of St. Pathan’s is about 15 to 19 million years old,” said researcher Nick Rawlens. “It opens a window to a real Miocene miracle that we knew relatively little about until recently.”

Unfortunately, the newly discovered giant duck did not live forever. Tennyson suspects Catriona is extinct because of the dramatic tectonic and climatic changes in the area, which eventually wiped out the entire lake. “Or the duck may have evolved into a modern species, and its offspring are still with us today,” says the researcher.

Overall, the new discovery underscores the global significance of the St. Pathan’s fossils. “We are now beginning to better understand the evolution of ducks and their relatives,” concludes Tennyson.