The Marples and Parker Collection

An exceptional collection of historic bird skeletons collected by Professor Thomas Jeffery Parker (1850-1897) and Professor Brian Marples (1907-1998) of the University of Otago was donated to the Museum in 2015.

2016 41 2026 Yellow eyed penguin skeleton Marples2

Skeleton of an adult Yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) 2016.41.2026

The collection is of great scientific value in terms of diversity of taxa, number of items, and potential for scientific research (i.e. comparative material; student projects). Parker was appointed professor of biology at the University of Otago In 1880 succeeding F. W. Hutton. He wrote one of the most important New Zealand natural science papers of the 19th century on the embryology of Kiwi. Some of the specimens in this collection are illustrated in this text.

Brian John Marples was Professor at Otago from 1938 till 1967. Marples established a netting and banding scheme and carried out an extensive study of the Little Owl (Athene noctua). His were amongst the first New Zealand contributions to take what could be termed a modern approach to bird biology. His collection of is amongst the items accessioned. In total there are 30 skeletons of kiwi, penguin, fowl and pigeons from Parker and collected by Marples were 110 skeletons of Little Owl collected before the Second World War and approximately 1,000 bones of seabirds.