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  • Geological timescales are the frameworks that geologists use to assign ages to units of rock. This is probably one of the most fundamental concepts in geology and its allied fields, including paleontology and evolutionary studies. It is a basic requirement for many things, such as: • assigning geological age to rocks, fossils and economic minerals; • calibrating the rates of geological processes such as fault displacement and plate rotation, submergence, uplift and erosion of the land, earthquake frequency and volcanic activity; • measuring rates of climate change, sea-level change, biodiversity change and organic evolution; • the search for natural resources. Age indicators used to develop timescales are various, but the oldest and still most frequently used approach is to recognise rocks of similar age by the fossils they contain. The first geological timescales were developed in Europe, and these are gradually being consolidated into an international geological timescale which is expanded and updated every few years. Many areas of the world, however, have highly endemic fossils – just as countries like New Zealand have highly endemic plant and animal biotas today – and it is hard to relate the geology of these places to the international framework. Like many of these places, New Zealand uses the international scheme for the major units (Jurassic, Cretaceous, and so on) and for rocks which are not well represented in our own country, but adopts a more convenient local scheme, based on our own endemic fossils, for the smaller time divisions. Our New Zealand geological timescale has been under development since the earliest days of geological research in the country, in the late nineteenth century, although perhaps the greatest advances occurred through the 1940s to 1960s. A huge amount of related knowledge was collected together and published in 2004, in a monograph edited by Roger Cooper and published by GNS Science. Access is available online from the GNS Science web site. Like all scientific endeavours, timescales are continually revised as new knowledge comes to hand. Most commonly, these revisions apply to the absolute age calibrations of the time units. Although fossils are a useful way to quickly tell that two different bodies of rock are of similar age, they cannot – on their own – tell us exactly how old that is. Various events, such as the “first” (oldest) occurrence of a particular fossil shell, have to be calibrated using some technique, such as radiometric dating, to find out how many years ago the event took place. Unfortunately, calibration usually requires that numerous factors happen to be “just right” in order to be accurate. Consequently, new data comes to hand slowly, over many years. DOI: Cite data as: GNS Science. (2004). New Zealand Geological Timescale [Data set]. GNS Science.

  • The landmark 518-page publication "Cenozoic Mollusca of New Zealand" by Beu & Maxwell (1990, NZGS Paleontological Bulletin 58) is long out of print. This publication by Beu & Raine (2009, GNS Science Miscellaneous Publication 27) contains revised descriptions and names of all species treated in detail in Paleontological Bulletin 58, arranged in a hypertext format. This guide has been constructed from the text of NZGS Paleontological Bulletin 58, with the figures individually scanned and available alongside the relevant text. Minor changes have been made to the text of morphological descriptions and notes about distribution, but the names of taxa and comparison notes have been extensively updated with taxonomic changes that have been published on Mollusca during the intervening 20 years. DOI: Cite as: Beu, A. G., & Raine, I. J. (2009). Revised descriptions of New Zealand Cenozoic Mollusca from Beu and Maxwell (1990). GNS Science.

  • This web-based catalogue presents an entry for each of the approximately 850 species of fossil spore or pollen from the New Zealand region that are recorded in the scientific literature. The database has been compiled primarily as a reference tool for paleontologists engaged in biostratigraphic work in New Zealand pre-Pleistocene strata, and provides a snapshot of the present state of nomenclature for this group of fossils. Taxa are arranged according to a morphological classification, to which there is a key in the introductory text. For each species, a detailed synonymy lists significant nomenclatural changes, all published records from New Zealand strata, some important illustrated records from elsewhere, and records which are regarded as misidentifications. The web pages are comprehensively illustrated with previously published images of New Zealand specimens, where possible reproduced from original photographs. Brief notes on natural phylogenetic relationships are also included. DOI: Cite as: Raine, J. I., Mildenhall, D. C., & Kennedy, E. M. (2011). New Zealand fossil spores and pollen: an illustrated catalogue. 4th edition. GNS Science.

  • The New Zealand Stratigraphic Lexicon (StratLex) is one of the “Nationally Significant” collections and databases recognised by the New Zealand government. It is a comprehensive database of formally named rock units from New Zealand and its offshore islands (including the Kermadec, Chatham and Subantarctic Island groups, but excluding the Ross Dependency, Antarctica). It includes biostratigraphic, chronostratigraphic, tectonostratigraphic, and miscellaneous informal names as well as conventional lithostratigraphic units. The database includes names of rock units with synonyms, hierarchical position, locality, geological age, and bibliography of significant articles. Access is available online from the GNS Science web site. DOI: Cite as: GNS Science. (1996). New Zealand Stratigraphic Lexicon. GNS Science.

  • Written both for students and foraminiferal specialists, the New Zealand Foraminifera Manual is a guide to identifying and using key foraminiferal genera and species to interpret New Zealand’s biostratigraphy and paleoenvironments. It also summarises sampling procedures, curation, significant previous work, stratigraphic and biostratigraphic principles and the development New Zealand’s Cenozoic Stages. Emphasis is on the critical features for recognising taxa, rather than lengthy formal taxonomic descriptions. High quality illustrations amplify the verbal descriptions. The Manual’s content closely reflects the nature of New Zealand’s foraminiferal record, with about 10% of the fossil illustrations and associated text dealing with Paleozoic and Mesozoic foraminifers, the remaining 90% with the Cenozoic species. Although late Paleozoic and Mesozoic foraminifera are found in New Zealand, these are typically “niche occurrences”, of mainly local significance. In the latest Cretaceous foraminiferal faunas start to become more diverse and prevalent, and relevant to regional studies. This trend grows during the Cenozoic, giving NZ the world-class, mid-latitude fauna to which the majority of the Manual is devoted. In a very real sense, the Manual is a taonga marking the end of an era in New Zealand foraminiferal micropaleontology; an era built on the ground-breaking work, especially of H.J. Finlay. The Manual was Dr Hornibrook’s “retirement project”, and he could give it nearly undivided attention. Dr Hornibrook had a broad knowledge of New Zealand faunas, gained over many years both through his own research developing and refining the NZ Geological Timescale, and through collaboration with field geologists. Equally important were the fine foraminiferal drawings produced by Ron Brazier. It is very difficult to take useful photographs of foraminifera, especially benthic foraminifera, using either a conventional microscope or SEM. Key identification features are often poorly represented, whereas a paleontological artist could subtly emphasise them so that a user could look for them when examining a specimen. Illustrations of over 550 individual species have been scanned to enable convenient access alongside related descriptive text. Some of the descriptions include minor revisions or editorial changes Access is available online from the GNS Science web site. DOI: Cite as: Strong, C. P., Raine, J. I., & Terezow, M. (2018). Key species of New Zealand fossil foraminifera: descriptions from "Manual of New Zealand Permian to Pleistocene Foraminiferal Biostratigraphy" by Hornibrook, Brazier and Strong, 1989. GNS Science.