The fossil find proves that the flax snail was in the NZ for three million years, says the scientist

The discovery of an 8 cm high flax snail fossil states that scientists believe that this species has been found in New Zealand for about 3 million years.

Bruce Hayward / delivered

The discovery of an 8 cm high flax snail fossil states that scientists believe that this species has been found in New Zealand for about 3 million years.

The discovery of two fossils of flax snails in Auckland shows that the species has been in New Zealand 30 times longer than previously believed.

An Auckland scientist studying fossils said before two fossils were found in shell sand removed from a Watercare wastewater treatment plant in Māngere, the oldest known flax snail fossil found in dunes near Cape Reing was about 100,000 years old. years.

Paleontologist dr. Bruce Hayward said the new discovery indicated that the flax snail / pupuharakeke had been in New Zealand for about 3-3.5 million years.

“These are by far the oldest known fossils of this group of snails anywhere in the world,” Hayward said in a statement to the media.

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“They confirm that these big snails have been in New Zealand for a long time. Before the arrival of humans, flax snails were far more widespread than they are today. “

Flax snail, or Placostylus, it is one of the two largest land snails in the country and can be up to 10 inches long, Hayward said.

They are an endangered species and are found only on the islands of the Three Kings, the Northern Cape and in some areas along the eastern coast of the Northern country.

They can also be found in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji and Lord Howe, located between Australia and New Zealand.

Hayward said paleontologists believe that flax snails came to New Zealand millions of years ago from Melanesia, near Papua New Guinea.

Finding fossils of two flax snails in the sand from the shell was a “big surprise,” Hayward said.

“It is possible that they died on land, and the streams sank them into the sea.

“The decaying animals produce gas that may have filled their shells and helped them float out to sea, into the ancient Gulf of Manukau, where they sank to the sea floor and were quickly buried in sediment.”

The fossils were found by Stefano Vittor and Julianne McCoun.

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