Rare bones in Spalding museum

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A regular column by Dr Patricia Buck, of Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum.

I’ve been looking at the temporary display of prehistoric bones and teeth in our lecture theatre.

The collections represent the story of an ordinary man who managed to have some extraordinary experiences (let us be inspired to adventure!)

The Rev Daniel Cross Bates, for example. Born June 1868 in Spalding, went to the grammar school before moving on to Salisbury Cathedral School.

He visited Australia, was ordained in Newcastle in 1892 and then moved to Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1898.

In the Boar War he became Chaplain-Colonel with the 9th New Zealand Contingent and was awarded the Queen’s Medal, a Territorial Decoration, and the Long Service medal.

Because of an illness affecting his voice, Bates left the church and became a director of the Colonial Museum with responsibilities for climatological work (weather forecasting for the forces and aviation services), eventually becoming director of the Meteorology Office in 1909.

He established the Wellington Zoological Gardens in New Zealand and was actively involved in an array of other social groups and societies.

Daniel came back to Spalding – presumably to visit his father and family. We know this because it was Daniel who presented the bones of the ‘Dinornis robustus’, commonly known as the Giant Moa Bird.

The flightless Moa, of which there were nine species, is believed to be extinct now.

The species represented by the bones in the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society Museum would have stood over 6½ feet high with a long neck that meant it could reach over 11 feet high to graze foliage.