In March this year a farm worker taking dogs for a swim, found moa footprints under the water of the Kyeburn River in Central Otago. For the record, his name is Michael Johnston. We owe him big time for being so observant and ensuring that his find was properly investigated by those with the knowledge and skill to handle this incredible discovery. The footprints are now on display at Otago Museum.
Link to my previous post of May 10, 2019 – a photo of the moa footprints when they were still underwater. They were under more than a metre of water and seven footprints were discovered.
Otago Museum is in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Also, here is a link to the Otago Daily Times article of 21 Nov 2019 that alerted me the moa footprints are now on display, the main reason for our recent Dunedin visit. The article starts with an excellent video that shows the footprints underwater, being extracted from the river, and what the current museum display looks like as the footprints dry out in humidity chambers – on view to the public. How long the process will take is unknown but at least six months and probably much longer.
Seven moa footprints were discovered, six were excavated and removed to the Otago Museum in May. The seventh was left as is (a large portion of bank would have had to be excavated to retrieve it and also it was already damaged by a root mass that’d been growing on top of it).
Age of the footprints: the sediments the footprints were contained in suggest a date range of between 1 and 11 million years old.
Got questions? This blog-post at the Otago Museum has a good FAQ that addresses a lot of likely questions: Link To FAQ
— Click on ANY photo to enlarge —
Complete foot of a giant moa that was part of the exhibition (above, below).
Wall picture of the moa footprints in the riverbed, and one of the excavated moa footprints in a humidity chamber.
About the discovery and verification of the moa footprints…
The river had to be diverted in order to excavate the moa footprints.
These are the first moa footprints we have records for in the South Island but others have already been recorded in the North Island. The first moa footprints were discovered in 1866 (Gisborne, in the North Island).
Apart from Otago Museum staff, many other people and entities were involved with the finding, removal and preservation of the moa footprints.
More information, photos and links are available at this previous post I did May 10, 2019: Moa Footprints Discovery
For the record, we viewed the footprints on Sun 24 Nov 2019. They were unveiled on Wed 20 Nov.
Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)