Trevor H. Worthy

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Trevor Henry Worthy
Born 3 January 1957
New Zealand
Nationality New Zealand
Other names "Mr. Moa"
Citizenship Australia
Education University of Adelaide
Known for Work on the moa
Awards D. L. Serventy Medal
Scientific career
Fields paleozoologist

Trevor Henry Worthy (born 3 January 1957) is an Australia-based paleozoologist from New Zealand known for his research on moa and other extinct vertebrates.

Worthy grew up in Broadwood, Northland and went to Whangarei Boys’ High School.[1] He began his career as a largely self-taught palaeontologist, after becoming interested in fossils through caving.[2] Worthy completed his BSc and MSc at the University of Waikato, then did a second Master's degree at Victoria University of Welington.[1] In 1987 he described three new leiopelmatid frog species from cave subfossils: the Aurora frog (Leiopelma auroraensis), Markham's frog (Leiopelma markhami), and the Waitomo frog (Leiopelma waitomoensis). In the 1990s Worthy discovered several fossil bird species new to science, including the long-billed wren (Dendroscansor decurvirostris) in 1991, Scarlett's shearwater (Puffinus spelaeus) in 1991, and the Niue night heron (Nycticorax kalavikai) in 1995. In 1991 he also described the Northland skink, a fossil skink species new to science.[3]

In 1998 Worthy excavated subfossil bones in Fiji, where he found remains of the flightless Viti Levu giant pigeon (Natunaornis gigoura), the Viti Levu scrubfowl (Megapodius amissus), the Viti Levu snipe (Coenocorypha miratropica), the giant Fiji ground frog (Platymantis megabotoniviti), and the small freshwater crocodile Volia athollandersoni. The holotypes of these species were deposited in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

For years Worthy has been involved in the excavation of Miocene fossils (the Saint Bathans Fauna) from a prehistoric lake in Central Otago, including the oldest known moa bones, the oldest tuatara bones, and the first known fossil land mammal from New Zealand.[4]

Worthy's research, based in Masterton, Nelson, and Te Papa, had been funded by grants from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology since 1991, but in 2005 his funding was cut by the Foundation.[2] Since 2005, he has been based at the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide. He received his Ph.D from the University of Adelaide in 2008 and a Doctor of Science from the University of Waikato in 2011.[1]

Worthy is author or co-author of numerous research papers about prehistoric life in New Zealand. For the book The Lost World of the Moa (2002) he and Richard Holdaway received the D. L. Serventy Medal from the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union in 2003 for an outstanding published work about Australasian avifauna.


  1. ^ a b c "Mr Moa now Doctor of Science". News at Waikato. University of Waikato. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Beston, Anne (9 May 2005). "Mr Moa's cash extinct". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Tennyson, Alan J.D. (4 November 2009). "The origin and history of New Zealand’s terrestrial vertebrates" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Ecology (Special Issue: Feathers to Fur): 9. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Fossils reveal New Zealand's indigenous 'mouse'". New Scientist. 11 December 2006.

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