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  • Instinction Game

Instinction Fund - Announcement

Hashbane is pleased to announce that we are now accepting submissions for our Instinction Fund in partnership and supported by our partners at Hillfarrance.

After securing funding and following the continued success of Instinctions development, we have decided to launch the Instinction Fund, a grant scheme offering support to paleo related activities, studies and research, which will provide funding of NZ$10,000 in value, to suitable applicants. The first donation has been awarded to Dr. Amber Coste of Otago University. Read more about Amber below.

Applicants are invited to apply for the grant to cover expenses arising from a defined paleo research or development project that possesses timeliness and promise. Projects may concern scientific research, papers, dig sites, restorations, exhibitions, paleo art(digital and traditional), anthropology, paleo ecology & geology etc. The fund is open to applicants from all corners of the globe and projects can be based internationally.

Applications should be made by filling out the required information below. Candidates should also make themselves aware of the Terms and Conditions of the grant and applications should be submitted electronically on or before the closing date.


Private individuals, Collaborations and Institutions are all equally welcome to apply. Applicants will be assessed equally on their merits, with no preference as to mode of enquiry.


July 29, 2022 (GMT+12)


We've bootstrapped our own ambitious projects, we understand that sometimes all a project of endeavor needs is that extra push, a little bit of money helps.

Not only do we have a passion for our own paleo project, but we want to facilitate and contribute to projects that directly benefit the paleo community as a whole.

We were fortunate enough to be able to do this thanks to Rob Vickery of Hillfarrance suggesting the idea and graciously offering to financially back the grant, Rob also happens to be an amateur paleontologist and gamer.

A few words from Rob:

This grant is a significant step forwards to supporting palaeontologists in the field to give us the data to tell more accurate stories and to fearlessly educate our next generation on how dinosaurs might have appeared and behaved. With funding and support for paleontology drying up in Aotearoa New Zealand, there isn’t a greater time to support brilliant minds like Amber’s in her pursuit of uncovering more about prehistoric life that once roamed and whenua and moana of The Land of the Long White Cloud

This is what Dr. Amber Coste had to say:

My area of palaeontological expertise lies in studying the anatomy of fossils to understand how they moved, attacked and killed prey. This is primarily done through a combination of comparative anatomy and functional morphology which give us some insight into the possible lives of ancient animals. I personally have a passion for studying extinct dolphins who have changed so much over their millions of years of evolution, going from land dwelling, four-legged beings to the slick marine creatures we know today. My thesis and upcoming paper is on a dolphin who may have used its flexible neck and prominent teeth to slash like a sawfish.
One of the challenges I face in studying the morphology and anatomy of these animals is having to manage the fragility of unique specimens. They cannot be moved, must be stored in protected areas and you certainly can’t swing the skulls around. Having access to 3D models of specimens allows for the recreation of movement as well as modelling force resistances without the use of destructive methods. I have included an image of fossil earbones, printed in plastic so that they can be handled and shared with scientists internationally. These funds have let me purchase a high-quality handheld 3D scanner which will permit the imaging, computer modelling and recreation through 3D printing of numerous unique fossil specimens such as teeth, skulls and vertebra. My current scans are limited to what I can fit in the Micro-CT scanner of the University of Anatomy Department, in Medicine, when I can afford to pay for it.

We met Amber at the Auckland War Memorial Museum where there is currently an exhibit of a new specimen of Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Lance Formation in eastern Wyoming, nicknamed ‘Peter’, the website contains the palaeontological study too, well worth a read. We implore anyone in New Zealand to visit and have a look at this incredible exhibit, it's a beauty to behold, not to mention all the other gorgeous things to see.

The State of Palaeontology in NZ

The state of study and research into New Zealand palaeontology has changed significantly since the last formal report made about it in 2010. This should be considered a quick update to the linked report.


  • Large quantity of macro and micro fossils in both terrestrial and marine.

  • The Otago-Canterbury region carries a huge variety of marine Oligocene fossil vertebrates.

  • The movement of fossils out of the country is very strictly regulated.

  • Extensive material has been collected from sites around the country and awaits study.

  • Many specimens are unique species.

  • These museums currently contract individuals for the preparations of their fossils as they do not have labs of their own.

  • The University of Otago has one of the only active preparation labs in the country with trained and experienced staff in preparation and curation.


  • Curators represent the majority of the palaeontological staff present in New Zealand.

  • The most active researchers in the field are in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and in Canterbury Museum.

  • Currently there are no dedicated lecturers on the topic in Otago outside of the research and teaching being carried out on ancient DNA and paleoclimate.

  • In the Otago geology department alone the two palaeontology professors employed here have retired in the last few years leaving only a postdoctoral fellow and a couple of technical staff.

  • The majority of the research currently carried out in the country is done by recent or current students publishing the results of their postgraduate research.

  • The rest is carried out by museum curators.

  • There is wide interest in palaeontology around NZ and amateur fossil collectors regularly email or come in to see staff asking for help identifying specimens or reporting finds.


  • Museum collections generate interest, as do games featuring palaeontology.

  • Vanished World is a continuing example of very successful outreach. Vanished World

  • Media presents information about palaeontology and fossils (such as the Prehistoric Planet series).

  • No training opportunities currently exist as there are no university staff employed which can supervise or teach students.

  • Future trained staff will need to come from abroad.

  • Careers are very limited in NZ.

  • The majority of jobs are in museums.

  • University positions are being retired from without active replacement


  • Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of NZ has been the primary source of funding for palaeontological research in the last decade or two with grants being large enough to allow for the hiring of staff and running of preparation labs.

  • Historical National Geographic funding was granted back in the 90s but none since.

  • University grants and scholarships are regularly offered to active research staff of universities but are restricted to much smaller grants.

  • The remainder of research funds are provided by taking on postgraduate students.

Dr. Amber Coste -


We're always looking for ways to improve, send us your thoughts, opinions or evidence worthy to make changes to our approach, procedures , we want to improve. The only prerequisite is to be polite. Feel welcome to message us on or message us directly through the website.



Zaid Adel
Zaid Adel
Aug 09, 2022

Can I know about my nation's release announcement will be made


Jun 15, 2022

This is a wonderful investment for Hashbane and Hillfarrance to make! Securing funding for paleontological research can be hard enough in the United States, so I can imagine that things are no easier in New Zealand. Congratulations to Dr. Amber Coste for the funding, which I have no doubt she'll put to excellent use.

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