Researcher Fred Brook in Northland has examined fossil shells of the native land snail Placostylus ambagiosus. If rats had arrived in New Zealand as early as 2,000 years ago, we would expect to find evidence of rat predation on small creatures such as snails over that timespan. As shells can be radiocarbon-dated, it is possible to determine the age at which fossil snail shells were gnawed by rats. The evidence to date is that gnaw marks only appeared on the shells after 1250.
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Photograph by F. J. Brook
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