19 Nov 2014

Researchers identify ancient NZ whale

12:32 pm on 19 November 2014

A type of whale which lived in waters about New Zealand 27 million years ago has a name.


A life restoration of Tohoraata raekohao side by side with the actual fossil specimen. Photo: Robert Boessenecker

Geology PhD student Robert Boessenecker and his supervisor Professor Ewan Fordyce named the whale Tohoraata, which translated to ''Dawn Whale'' in English.

The fossilised whale was found in 1993, preserved in a rock formation near Duntroon in North Otago.

The whales lived between 27-25 million years ago when the continent of Zealandia was largely, or completely under water and they were deposited on a continental shelf that was between 50 to 100 metres deep.

Palaeontologists said the whale looked similar to a minke whale but were about eight metres long and more slender and serpent like.

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