Otago Daily Times
Fossilised moa prints dried out safely
City proximity promotes survival
OTAGO Museum conservators can put some of their anxieties aside after learning that rocks preserving rare moa footprints have successfully dried out.
The only moa footprints discovered in the South Island have for many months been slowly drying out in humidity chambers while on display at the museum.
Once hidden beneath the Kyeburn River, 15km from Ranfurly, the footprints were discovered by tractor driver Michael Johnston in early March last year.
Six of the footprints, about 30cm long, were later excavated and brought to the museum in May last year after a collaborative effort which included diverting the river and cutting them from the riverbed.
Museum conservator Shannah RhynardGeil said on Thursday that earlier CT scans had shown a few internal cracks in the rocks.
‘‘We were concerned about taking something so waterlogged and drying it, and then more cracks occurring.
‘‘We are really relieved to see how good they are looking, and hopeful at this stage,” she said.
Museum conservation manager Nyssa Mildwaters was pleased and excited at the good condition the rocks were in after they were removed from protective cases yesterday.
‘‘We’re pretty happy that they’re almost 100% dry.
After further month of careful drying, it was hoped to have further CT scans carried out early next year, perhaps in January, to check again on the internal condition.
‘‘That’s going to be the second nervous bit for us,’’ she said.
It was hoped to work collaboratively with Otago Polytechnic to develop suitable protective cases for the treasures.
Museum curators were becoming excited about possible display options, and the museum would also consult carefully about these, she said.