Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Extinct Burrowing Bats Betray Biodiversity Loss

Credit: Gavin Mouldey

Credit: Gavin Mouldey

By Sue Hand

The fossilised remains of burrowing bats that lived millions of years ago shed light on this remarkable group of mammals while signalling loss of biodiversity in New Zealand.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Some 150 km from New Zealand’s adrenaline-pumping adventure capital Queenstown, the historic village of St Bathans nestles quietly in the golden foothills of the St Bathans Range. Here, life moves at a gentler pace, but in its heyday St Bathans was also a boom town, riding high on Central Otago’s gold rush of the late 1800s to early 1900s. Today, its heritage-listed buildings of sun-dried mud bricks, stone and kauri pine – and laidback New Zealand style – make this village a popular stop on Central Otago’s rail trail.

At the town’s heart is the Vulcan Hotel, built in 1882 and once patronised by the district’s 2000 miners. Among the Vulcan’s claims to fame is its infamous ghost, The Rose, a lady of the night strangled in Room 1 in days long gone. Another drawcard for the village is the man-made Blue Lake, once a conspicuous hill but transformed by goldmining sluicing into a 68-metre pit (in its day the deepest mining shaft in the Southern Hemisphere) and now filled by astonishingly blue water.

Not far from the village, evidence of a much older, natural lake is revealing a far deeper history for the St Bathans area. Some 16–19 million years ago (Ma), a vast lake covered more than 5600 km2 of the South Island’s Maniototo region. At that time, temperatures in New Zealand were warmer than today, and semitropical to warm temperate forests and ferns edged palaeolake...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.