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Extinction: Can New Zealand extirpate invasive species?

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Except where dinosaurs or media-friendly modern species are in play, extinction barely rates a yawn. But here is an interesting item by Veronika Meduna at New Scientist, on a plan to return an ecosystem to a previous time:

We are inside the old water reservoir for New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Over the past two decades, it has undergone an extraordinary transformation, from urban utility to ecological haven. During the day, large forest parrots called kaka swoop over tuatara, the only survivors of a prehistoric group of reptiles. Night-time visitors have a good chance of crossing paths with a little spotted kiwi. Hihi – small black, white and yellow birds that had once disappeared from New Zealand’s main islands – are flourishing.

What you won’t see are many mammals: virtually all have been eradicated. Mice (and humans) are the only exception and pest control keeps mouse numbers low. (paywall) More.

Before human introductions, bats were the only terrestrial mammals in New Zealand.

To really understand evolution, we need also to learn much more about stasis and extinction.

It will be most interesting to see how well the project works. It almost seems like a lab test. We tend to think of extirpations/extinctions in relation to threatened species, but rats are not typically threatened and adapt easily.

One also predicts that the government of New Zealand will lose the war on cats. Cats infest the human mind, which is the most powerful form of parasitism ever developed.

See also: The dinosaurs died of darkness and cold (not so much any of the other things listed )

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6 Replies to “Extinction: Can New Zealand extirpate invasive species?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest to bats. Bats popped out of the supposed ‘evolutionary woodwork’ about 55 million years ago. They first appear as a radically new, yet fully developed, form. A form which was not in any way significantly different from modern bats. Their debut in the fossil record is sudden, complete, and lacks intermediaries as the following video and articles make clear:

    Bat Evolution? – No Transitional Fossils!

    Earliest known Australian Tertiary mammal fauna:- 1992
    Excerpt: Radiometric dating of illites forming part of the matrix of the mammal-bearing zone has given a minimum age estimate of 54.6 plusminus 0.05 x 10^6 years,

    First Eocene Bat From Australia
    Excerpt: Remains of a bat, Australonycteris clarkae, gen. et sp. nov., are reported from freshwater clays radiometrically dated to 54.6 million years old in southeastern Queensland, Australia. It is the oldest bat recorded for the southern hemisphere and one of the world’s oldest.

    Australonycteris clarkae is one of the oldests bat ever found in the fossil record at 54.6 million years old. The ear bones of Australonycteris show that it could navigate using echolocation just like modern bats.

    Australonycteris clarkae
    Excerpt: Australonycteris clarkae, from the Eocene of Queensland, is the oldest bat from the Southern Hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world. It is similar to other archaic Eocene bats from the Northern Hemisphere, and could probably navigate using echolocation, like most bats do today. (of note: some “modern” bats do not use echolocation today):

    Fossil of huge ‘walking’ bat discovered in New Zealand – June 17, 2015
    16 million years ago, giant bats walked on four limbs
    Excerpt: “Our discovery shows for the first time that Mystacina bats have been present in New Zealand for upwards of 16 million years, residing in habitats with very similar plant life and food sources,,,,
    The new species has similar teeth to its contemporary relative, suggesting a broad diet that included nectar, pollen and fruit, as well as insects and spiders. Limb bones found in the deposit also showed similar structures specialised for walking.
    Where they differ is body size: at an estimated 40 grams, the fossil bat is roughly three times heavier than its living cousin, and the average weight of more than 900 living bat species.

    Of note; The bat’s echometer has more accuracy, more efficiency, less power consumption and less size than any artificial sonar constructed by engineers.

    The bionic antinomy of Darwinism
    Excerpt: For example, the bats have an echometer emitting 100 kHz supersonic pulses at a frequency of 30 times per second. These waves are reflected and distorted by the surrounding objects and their echoes are intercepted and elaborated by the bat to catch its prey and also just to get around. The signal processing of these echoes is so accurate to allow bats to fly, twisting, looping and zig-zagging through the air, into a completely dark room intersected by tens pianoforte strings without grazing them. The bat’s echometer has more accuracy, more efficiency, less power consumption and less size than any artificial sonar constructed by engineers.

    Here’s a diagram showing bats and dolphins unexpectedly grouped together on the same gene tree based on Prestin sequence comparisons.

    Picture: Echolocation in bats and whales based on same changes to same gene – 2010
    The echolocation abilities of bats and whales, though different in their details, rely on the same changes to the same gene – Prestin. These changes have produced such similar proteins that if you drew a family tree based on their amino acid sequences, bats and toothed whales would end up in the same tight-knit group, to the exclusion of other bats and whales that don’t use sonar.

    And here is something that it just plain weird

    Study reveals,, hawkmoths’ sonar jamming defense – May 05, 2015
    Excerpt:, some moth species rub their genitals to jam the calls of bats. Radar jamming is commonly used in human warfare, allowing pilots to render themselves invisible.,,,
    “Before now people thought ultrasound usage in insects was very restricted to certain groups, but it looks much more complex than that,” Kawahara said.
    Kawahara and collaborators scoured jungles and forests from Borneo to the Amazon observing hawkmoths. They collected specimens at 70 sites in 32 countries and conducted field-based echolocation experiments and lab experiments using more than 700 moths. After testing the response of 124 species of hawkmoths, researchers found nearly half generated ultrasonic sounds with their genitalia.,,,
    his research group to pit big brown bats against hawkmoths in field and lab experiments that tested the function of hawkmoth antibat ultrasound. In one experiment, study researchers played pre-recorded bat attack calls to study how moths responded.
    The study shows in these experiments, moths’ acoustic defense was immediately and consistently effective, while bats that failed to capture sound-producing hawkmoths often performed catching behavior without subduing prey.,,,
    “This is just the beginning – we are trying to chip away at what goes on with nocturnal insect biodiversity,” Kawahara said.


    Psalm 50:10-11
    For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.

  2. 2
    rvb8 says:

    In 2016, the then PM John Key made the rash promise to exterminate all non-native wild mammals in NZ, thereby bringing back a natural environment for native species.

    His replacement Bill English is wisely quieter on the subject. To eradicate every rat, feral cat,dog,pig and deer, from the NZ bush is, quite frankly impossible.

    More realistically NZ has done this erradication process on several small coastal islets, since the early 80s, and these have saved many critically endangered species, kakapo, tuatara, takahe and Black Robin amongst them.

  3. 3
    aarceng says:

    “Before human introductions, bats were the only terrestrial mammals in New Zealand.”

    This is quite consistent with Noah’s Flood. Terrestrial animals wouldn’t have been able to reach islands that were isolated from the mainland, or those that formed, after the flood.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm, were trout eliminated from the reservoir, etc?

  5. 5
    rvb8 says:


    You do realise NZ is home to numerous flightless birds. Five kinds of endangered Kiwis can’t fly, did they hitch a ride on God’s good graces after the flood? Nine species of extinct Moa (destroyed by the Maori) probably arrived via, what, Thomas Cook? Also extant species of rails, crakes, and coots, could also not fly from the Ark, I suppose they swam.

    And how did NZ have a series of native freshwater fish then? Did they swim the salty seas from Australia, and how did any freshwater fish survive the salty flood for that matter?

    Your ‘one off’, biogeographical observation about bat mammals, needs updating, from Genesis to the 21st Century. I suggest you start with the two chapters dedicated to biogeography in ‘Origins’, by Darwin.

    Amazin! Darwin living 160 or so years ago, is more informed on the distribution of species worldwide, and why, than ‘aarceng’, who has the inter-net at h/her fingertips.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    rvb8, here is an amazing testimony that you may find interesting:

    David Bennett a gay rights activist has an experience with God – video

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