Living World

A leap in the dark

Of all the world’s amphibians, the most evolutionarily unusual and critically endangered is the Archey’s frog. The smallest of New Zealand’s four native frogs, this ‘living fossil’ hasn’t changed much in 150 million years. It didn’t evolve ears or a voice, prefers the forest floor to water, and can’t leap without landing in a bellyflop. Why are Archey’s frogs so strange, and what makes them so important?

Magazine

ISSUE 145

May - Jun 2017

No swimming

Bruce McLaren

Glowworms

Archey's frog

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Travel & Adventure

Rock stars

In the heart of the Waikato there’s a multimillion-dollar industry based on a gnat. Glowworms are big business, attracting well over half a million people a year to Waitomo and prompting some to shift from working the land above ground to commercialising the creatures below it. But keeping the caves and their thousands of tiny performance artists in good health requires round-the-clock care.

Profile

Figures of speech

How language developed is an unsolved puzzle of human evolution, and Michael Corballis has spent a lifetime trying to figure it out.

Science & Environment

No swimming

Five millimetres of rain in a day is not uncommon in Auckland, but it is enough to cause parts of the city’s wastewater network to overflow, spilling raw sewage into the sea and making beaches unsafe for swimming. This summer, permanent warning signs were posted at 10 locations where water quality is so bad that Auckland Council no longer monitors it. Why are Auckland’s beaches so frequently unswimmable? Is the solution better plumbing—or more enlightened thinking?

History

The mechanical sympathy

Bruce McLaren founded the most successful Formula One team in history and set records that lasted decades. His name is still emblazoned on some of the world’s fastest cars. But the fairytale quality of McLaren’s life—growing up above his parents’ petrol station, racing the Austin 7 he built as a teenager, later winning Monaco and Le Mans—conceals the hardships he overcame and the innovations he made. McLaren didn’t just race cars, he designed and built them, and in doing so, transformed the sport of Formula One.

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