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Waddling Mice and Kiwi Crocs

Episode:59Te Papa Collection:Natural Environment

Suggested curriculum levels:2 – 6

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Science: Nature of Science Living World

Description:Te Papa's Alan Tennyson shows us some intriguing fossils from St Bathans in Otago that point to a scientific discovery about the first mammals in New Zealand.

Questions for students

  1. What does the presenter mean when he says, 'New Zealand has a very turbulent geological history'? How does that impact on fossil-finding? How do scientists find out about the life forms that existed here millions of years ago?
  2. What is a crocodilian? What leads the scientists to believe the fragments they found are from a crocodilian?
  3. Why does the presenter describe the tiny fragment of bone in a glass phial as their biggest find?
  4. The presenter calls the mammal they think the bone belonged to 'a waddling mouse'. What evidence do you think they used to work out the size of the mammal and how it moved? Use the 'Key questions' response template to record questions you have from this Tale. Locate other sources of information that will help you find answers and make notes from each source.
  5. On a scale diagram, how could you represent the huge time periods between the waddling rat of 60 million years ago and the arrival of the kiore? Where would you place the bats and the crocodilian?

Related templates:

Key questions