Monday, November 17, 2008

Moa's Ark - Gondwana Tearaways

For students of the Ghosts of Gondwana, here's David Bellamy's 1990 documentary, Moa's Ark, exploring the splitting off of Zealandia the tectonic plate that was to eventually end up as New Zealand over the course of 80 million years or so. On that plate were a few stowaways - the tuatara, the moa, and many other plants and animals to be joined over the millenia by other species dispersed by air and water who would also evolve in their own unique ways.

The diverse plant and animal life that resulted from millions of years of isolation led Jared Diamond to assert that “New Zealand is as close as we will get to the opportunity to study life on another planet”.

And who said science has to be dull - watch Bellamy use a meat pie to describe the geology of plate tectonics - subduction of plates, magma, the creation of chains of volcanoes. You'll never look at a meat pie the same way again...

Sadly, documentaries like this don't get made anymore in New Zealand. They're simply not commercial enough for prime time TV where bread and circuses are the order of the day. Apparently the viewers are only entertained by tap dancing with celebrities, anorexic models, and the like. So, enjoy another endangered species, the documentary on New Zealand's origins in deep time.

Thanks to New Zealand On-Screen for making this available on-line for those of us kuaka who are dispersed far from Aotearoa.

Video link to Moa's Ark.

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