New exhibition showcases Te Papa’s recent scientific discoveries

The national museum has opened a new exhibition DeCLASSIFIED! Nature’s secrets exposed at Te Papa to showcase recent discoveries by its scientists.

“This exhibition showcases our recent discoveries including new species of fish, landhoppers, seaweeds, lice, ferns, and fossil parrots. It also exposes newly documented behaviours, such as the fact that blobfish can actually swim quite gracefully,” Te Papa’s lead curator for the exhibition Leon Perrie says.

Recent discoveries documented in the exhibition include:

  • Nine new species of marine smelt (fish) in our seas, including two new to science and seven that had never been identified in New Zealand before

  • A new species of flagfin: Hime pyrhistion, otherwise known as the ‘flaming flagfin’

  • A new species of marine tanaid (crustacean)

  • Unearthing the only three fossils ever discovered of Latia, a genus of luminescent freshwater limpets

  • DNA analysis helping scientists correctly pair the females and males of different crab spider species

  • Identifying several new species of land hoppers, as well as two that were thought to be extinct

  • A new species of tangle fern

  • Numerous new species of bird lice

“This exhibition proves there’s still plenty of scientific discoveries to be made. Every two to three weeks a new species of fish is recorded for New Zealand’s waters and a few years ago one of my colleagues even discovered a new species of spider on his Karori doorstep,” Dr Perrie says.

The exhibition also has a ‘citizen science’ component with the public invited to send in photographs of spiders and ferns to help us better understand and manage New Zealand’s biodiversity.

“We’ll help with the identification and possibly, just possibly, the public’s input may even help to discover an entirely new species,” Dr Perrie says.

Te Papa’s Senior Science Curator Susan Waugh says the exhibition showcases Te Papa's scientific discovery.

“Over the years Te Papa’s scientists and collections have been used to identify and name more than 2,500 species. This exhibition also fits well with Te Papa’s broader science strategy to bring science to life by getting New Zealanders involved in making scientific discoveries.”

More information on the DeCLASSIFIED! exhibitionand how to get involved is available at

Media contact

Rachael Bruce, Senior Communications Adviser
04 381 7071 or 029 601 0010