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Road show to display 80 million years of life in NZ - 25/07/2006

A major national exhibition on fossils is set to tour New Zealand from late 2007. Designed for audiences of all ages, it will tell a unique New Zealand story and will tour through museums and science centres for two years.

Heidi Schlumpf with fossil

The exhibition, on Fossil Hunting (past, present and future), is being developed by GNS Science, with lead sponsorship from Shell New Zealand Ltd. The exhibition tour will coincide with the International Year of Planet Earth (2008) and the International Year of Darwin (2008).

GNS Science Chief Executive, Alex Malahoff, said New Zealand was fortunate to have the best fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere, and one which is internationally recognised.

“ GNS Science has a huge collection running to millions of specimens. We will be selecting fossils that tell great stories and show the many applications in modern life that rely on fossils,” Dr Malahoff said.

There will be no shortage of fossils to choose from, as museums and universities also hold fascinating collections. These include: moa, dinosaurs, terrestrial animals, penguins, marine reptiles and other sea creatures, insects, shells, plants and even fossil vomit! Multi-media will be used to reveal their stories and what New Zealand research can tell us about the past and the future.

Shell New Zealand Country Chair, Ajit Bansal, said the company was keen to support a project that had such strong educational opportunities and community involvement.

“ Past life forms play a much greater role in our everyday lives than many of us realise. There are so many stories to tell and new fossil finds are adding to that all the time.”

The exhibition (as yet untitled) is scheduled to open at Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth in October 2007. Director Bill Macnaught said Puke Ariki was delighted to be the first venue to host the exhibition. “Not only will we be digging deep into our history but also, amazingly, fossils can help us predict what is going to happen to our environment in the future. This exhibition will give us great opportunities to enjoy and learn from a range of public programmes and events locally.”

Minister of Research Science and Technology, Steve Maharey, said the project is “a great example of how we can bring science to a wide range of New Zealanders in a way that is both exciting and engaging.”