New Zealand was an island free of mammals of the land before we arrived. This in turn means that a couple of unusual species of animals and birds have evolved that are worth looking for while travelling in New Zealand. That is why we put together this quick list of some of New Zealand’s unusual species.
Due to the ancient isolation and lack of mammals in New Zealand, Kiwi has many strange and wonderful features. They are believed to have evolved to inhabit an ecosystem and lifestyle that a human would fill elsewhere in the world, and their one off evolutionary model holds all kinds of biological records. Kiwi are flightless and the name of their Latin genus is Apteryx, meaning wingless.
Kiwi belongs to an ancient bird species that is not able to fly, known as the ratites. Since they can’t fly, it’s not entirely clear how they landed in New Zealand. Kiwi behaviors and physical characteristics are sometimes referred to as an official species as a mammal. At the end of its beak, it has feathers like fur, nostrils, and a large head. Many kiwis such as the New Zealand’s native animals, are nocturnal birds. At dusk and dawn, their calls pierce the forest air.
Hector’s dolphins, rising to around 1.5 m in length, are among the smallest marine dolphins in the world. They can only be found in New Zealand’s inshore waters. There are two sub-species of Hector’s dolphins that are the dolphin of the South Island Hector found around New Zealand’s South Island, and the Māui dolphin found off the North Island’s west coast.
They are New Zealand’s only dolphins with a pointed black dorsal fin. Their bodies with white and black markings and a short snout, are a distinctive brown. Often the dolphins of Adult South Island Hector do not exceed 1.5 m in length and weigh between 40 and 60 kg. Males are lighter and slightly smaller than females.
Hamilton’s frog is a primitive frog native to New Zealand, one of the Leiopelmatidae family’s only four existing species. To protect them, the male remains with the eggs allowing the tadpoles to climb onto his back in which they are kept moist. The collector of the type specimen is named in honor of Harold Hamilton.
Regarding being the largest existing native frog in New Zealand, Hamilton’s frog is a small species compared to worldwide frogs, with males reaching a total length of up to 43 mm and females growing at 52 mm. Although some green individuals have also been observed, they are mostly light brown in colour. A single dark line runs through the eye and along the side of the head. Between the hind toes there is no webbing, and the fingers are not webbed.
Yellow Eyed Penguins.
One of the world’s rarest penguin species is believed to be exclusive to New Zealand, the hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. The yellow-eyed penguin also depends on marine and terrestrial habitats, including forest and coastal scrubland. Nesting choices are limited due to the coastline that have been burned or built for farming.
Yellow eyed penguins are lonely animals needing privacy. To locate nesting areas, they can walk up to one kilometer inland. A major conservation emphasis was on replanting coastal areas with native shrubs and plants and providing alternative habitats for nesting boxes. The marine habitat of the yellow eyed penguin is equally important because it provides food and allows land habitat dispersal and movement. Hence, this species are not ideal for permanent captivity.
There is a very diverse group of geckos and skinks in New Zealand. Many are poorly known about the distribution and habits, and additional species are still being discovered, and genetic studies are establishing others. Geckos are distinct from skinks because they have either velvet like or bumpy skin and a fixed look because they are unable to blink. The chevron skink (Oligosoma homalonotum) gives birth rather than laying eggs, like most other New Zealand skinks.
This seems to be adjusting to a cool climate. It is possible that New Zealand was cooler and had a more diverse reptile fauna in the early Miocene period about 16 million years ago. Life became more difficult for reptiles as temperatures cooled, and by adapting, those who survived did so. Some researchers believe that when most of New Zealand was submerged, skinks arrived about 25–35 million years ago.
With an estimated 80,000 endemic species, the biodiversity of New Zealand makes a significant contribution to global diversity. New Zealand is a worldwide recognized biodiversity hotspot. This high endemism is mainly the result of our long separation from other land masses and a diversity of geography and climate that allows the creation of unique flora and fauna. Therefore, it is necessary for tourists to visit the unique species in New Zealand.
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