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1851 Takahe Mantell's Petrifactions book

1851 Takahe Mantell's Petrifactions book

C011/0957

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The frontis to Gideon Mantell's 1851 book, "Petrifactions and their Teachings - a handbook to the gallery of organic remains at the British Museum". The frontis engraving is of Notornis Mantelli - the Takahe. This bird was known and named from fossils discovered by Gideon Mantell's son Walter who emigrated to New Zealand and sent back specimens of this presumed extinct species of large flightless bird. Remarkably he later came across a living specimen, here featured, to prove it was not extinct. Or so he thought, in fact Notornis Mantelli (now Porhyrio mantelli) was already extinct, and the living bird Walter found was Porphyrio hochestetteri. The former lived on the North Island, the latter on the South Island. The living bird Walter found was believed to have gone extinct in 1898 after the last four specimens were taken - but it was rediscovered in 1948.

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