Coconut, Fossil

Description
A single Cocos zeylandica. A small, dark brown, slightly flattened, walnut sized fossil coconut - basically round in shape. Three small depressions at one end are quite squashed (due to pressure from surrounding sediment). Came from Coopers Beach. Dated Early Miocene (24-16 million years). See research notes for further information.
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Object detail

Credit line
One of the best indicators of how warm climate conditions became in the early Miocene can be seen in the presence of coconut palms in the New Zealand fossil record. A coconut palm (Cocos zeylandica), a small extinct species found only in New Zealand, is known from its fruits (or coconuts) and represents a unique miniature variety. The coconuts measure no more than 4cm in longest dimension and are about the size of a walnut. Although all specimens originally would have been ovoid in shape, they have become squashed to varying degrees through the pressures of the surrounding sediment. However, they are easily identifiable as coconuts in spite of their small and flattened shape, as they retain 3 round depressions at one end that correspond to the 3 'eyes' present in all modern coconuts.

Specimens of C. zeylandica are found on Cooper's Beach, Mangonui (Doubtless Bay), Northland, where they have been washed out of carbonaceous sandstone.
Accession number
A96.374
Collection type
Material

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Public comments

Found 2 of these on 12/3/22 middle of coopers beach after high tides

- John hobdey on 13-03-2022 05:28:11

Found 7 of these little beauties over the last week Feb 2022 after the cyclone in varying shapes. The last time I found any was eight years ago.

- Dot on 18-02-2022 22:00:05

I really think these are from a more recent past. I found some Feb 2022 after a cyclone event. Perhaps what is more interesting is the huge amount of carbonized wood that also was washed up. There is a shallow reef just out from the beach. Maybe this was an exposed island and these exotic palms established themselves from another location Chile for example. I would love to see the science behind this, I just cannot see how these could have survived millions of years.

- Chris Rust on 15-02-2022 08:24:47

Found 3 of these on 1st August 2021 at Eastern end of Coopers beach

- Fiona ROWSE on 01-08-2021 23:29:26

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