New Zealand Dinosaurs
Impression of New Zealand during the Cretaceous period (artist: Simone End)
Can you imagine dinosaurs roaming New Zealand's forests? We know they lived here from fossils found in Port Waikato, Hawkes Bay and most recently in the Chatham Islands (Rekohu).
There were lumbering vegetarian sauropods, swift and small ornithopods, armoured Ankylosaurs and ferocious meat-eating theropods. Only a few fossil fragments have been found , but they enable scientists to paint a picture of New Zealand alive with Dinosaurs.
New Zealand at the time of Sue
What did New Zealand look like at the time of Sue?
65 Million years ago New Zealand looked very different to today, but you would still be able to recognise some similar plants and animals.
The forests were dominated by the giant ancestors of kauri, rimu and totara, with an understory thick with tree terns and mosses. Flowering plants, called angiosperms, had already evolved by this time, but groups like grasses and orchids were yet to appear.
Reptiles such as tuatara would have bathed in the summer sun and weta would have lived in the leaf litter. That makes New Zealand today a unique mix of the ancient and the new.
Probable Theropod toe bone(cast)
Sue's big foot: three wide divergent toes are typical
Sue's New Zealand Cousin
Compare the fossil toe bone found in Chatham Islands (Rekohu) with the same one in Sue's foot.
Look similar? That's because it comes from an 8-10 m long theropod dinosaur of roughly the same type, size and shape as T.rex. Until more fossils are found it's impossible to accurately identify this giant predator. However, palaeontologists believe this bone belong to a very big, meat-eating dinosaur that walked on two legs, just like Sue did.
Theropod finger bones (cast)
Would you have spotted these tiny fossils in the rock?
These claw and finger bones came from a 1-2 metre long theropod dinosaur and were dug out of ancient sea-eroded rock in the Chatham Islands (Rekohu).