They were the largest terrestrial animals and dominant herbivores in New Zealand's forest, shrubland, and subalpine ecosystems until the arrival of the Māori, and were hunted only by the Haast's eagle. Corrections? Thirty-six whole moa eggs exist in museum collections and vary greatly in size (from 120–240 millimetres (4.7–9.4 in) in length and 91–178 millimetres (3.6–7.0 in) wide).  Dinornis gizzards could often contain several kilograms of stones.  Moas likely exercised a certain selectivity in the choice of gizzard stones and chose the hardest pebbles. Moas were thought to be related to kiwis, whose origins can be traced to Australia, but several genetic studies have noted the close similarities between moas and tinamous, a group of partridge-like birds that evolved in South America, suggesting that common ancestors to moas and tinamous may have evolved there. Excavations of rock shelters in the eastern North Island during the 1940s found moa nests, which were described as "small depressions obviously scratched out in the soft dry pumice". Moa filled the ecological niche occupied in other countries by large browsing mammals such as antelopes and llamas. , About eight moa trackways, with fossilised moa footprint impressions in fluvial silts, have been found in the North Island, including Waikanae Creek (1872), Napier(1887), Manawatu River (1895), Marton (1896), Palmerston North (1911) (see photograph to left), Rangitikei River (1939), and under water in Lake Taupo (1973). W.E. " Despite the bird's extinction, the high yield of DNA available from recovered fossilised eggs has allowed the moa's genome to be sequenced. The name moa came from a Polynesian word for fowl. Inference from skeletal and other remains reveals that they ate seeds, fruits, leaves, and grasses, which were ground with the help of more than 3 kg (6.5 pounds) of stones in the gizzard. The eggs of most moa species were white, although those of the upland moa (Megalapteryx didinus) were blue-green. He established it was part of the femur of a big animal, but it was uncharacteristically light and honeycombed. Since the discovery of the first moa bones in the late 1830s, thousands more have been found. The lesser moas formed the family Emeidae, with about two-thirds of the species in the order. found that the eggs of certain species were fragile, only around a millimetre in shell thickness: "Unexpectedly, several thin-shelled eggs were also shown to belong to the heaviest moa of the genera Dinornis, Euryapteryx, and Emeus, making these, to our knowledge, the most fragile of all avian eggs measured to date. The two largest species, Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae, reached about 3.6 m (12 ft) in height with neck outstretched, and weighed about 230 kg (510 lb) while the smallest, the bush moa, was around the size of a turkey. Examination of growth rings in moa cortical bone has revealed that these birds were K-selected, as are many other large endemic New Zealand birds. Because the basal moa split occurred so recently (5.8 Mya), it was argued that ancestors of the Quaternary moa lineages could not have been present on both the South and North Island remnants during the Oligocene drowning. Like many other birds, moa swallowed gizzard stones (gastroliths), which were retained in their muscular gizzards, providing a grinding action that allowed them to eat coarse plant material. This has been confirmed by analysis for sex-specific genetic markers of DNA extracted from bone material.. Worthy", "Reconstructing the tempo and mode of evolution in an extinct clade of birds with ancient DNA: The giant moas of New Zealand", "Moa's Ark: Miocene fossils reveal the great antiquity of moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) in Zealandia", "Moa's ark or volant ghosts of Gondwana? Updates? Owen, northwest Nelson", "Quaternary fossil faunas from caves on Mt. Did The Maori Know The Moa? These include: Two specimens are known from outside the Central Otago region: In addition to these specimens, loose moa feathers have been collected from caves and rock shelters in the southern South Island, and based on these remains, some idea of the moa plumage has been achieved. , Because moa are a group of flightless birds with no vestiges of wing bones, questions have been raised about how they arrived in New Zealand, and from where. Many such moa bones antedate human settlement, although some originate from Maori midden sites, which frequently occur in dunes near harbours and river mouths (for example the large moa hunter sites at Shag River, Otago, and Wairau Bar, Marlborough). Owen announced to a skeptical scientific community and the world that it was from a giant extinct bird like an ostrich, and named it Dinornis. The most well-known example is at Pyramid Valley in north Canterbury, where bones from at least 183 individual moa have been excavated, mostly by Roger Duff of Canterbury Museum. Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! In July 2004, the Natural History Museum in London placed on display the moa bone fragment Owen had first examined, to celebrate 200 years since his birth, and in memory of Owen as founder of the museum.  A 2009 study showed that Euryapteryx curtus and E. gravis were synonyms.  Dark feathers with white or creamy tips have also been found, and indicate that some moa species may have had plumage with a speckled appearance. (2005). Although dozens of species were described in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many were based on partial skeletons and turned out to be synonyms. New Zealand had been isolated for 80 million years and had few predators before human arrival, meaning that not only were its ecosystems extremely vulnerable to perturbation by outside species, but also the native species were ill-equipped to cope with human predators.. Moa[note 1] were nine species (in six genera) of now-extinct flightless birds endemic to New Zealand.  The nine species of moa were the only wingless birds lacking even the vestigial wings that all other ratites have. The ratite groups differ greatly in…. The spine was attached to the rear of the head rather than the base, indicating the horizontal alignment. , An expedition in the 1850s under Lieutenant A. Impey reported two emu-like birds on a hillside in the South Island; an 1861 story from the Nelson Examiner told of three-toed footprints measuring 36 cm (14 in) between Takaka and Riwaka that were found by a surveying party; and finally in 1878, the Otago Witness published an additional account from a farmer and his shepherd. They occur in a range of late Quaternary and Holocene sedimentary deposits, but are most common in three main types of site: caves, dunes, and swamps. The two main faunas identified in the South Island include: A 'subalpine fauna' might include the widespread D. robustus, and the two other moa species that existed in the South Island: Significantly less is known about North Island paleofaunas, due to a paucity of fossil sites compared to the South Island, but the basic pattern of moa-habitat relationships was the same.
It had no tail. also concluded that the highly complex structure of the moa lineage was caused by the formation of the Southern Alps about 6 Mya, and the habitat fragmentation on both islands resulting from Pleistocene glacial cycles, volcanism, and landscape changes. , Ancient DNA analyses have determined that a number of cryptic evolutionary lineages occurred in several moa genera. ", "The material culture of the Moa-hunters in Murihiku – 2. Bunce et al. These stones were commonly smooth rounded quartz pebbles, but stones over 110 millimetres (4 in) long have been found among preserved moa gizzard contents. The two main ways that the moa bones were deposited in such sites were birds that entered the cave to nest or escape bad weather, and subsequently died in the cave and birds that fell into a vertical shaft and were unable to escape. Moa likely became extinct sometime between 1440-1445 AD, according to a new study from University of Auckland and Landcare Research scientists. The other moa species present in the North Island (Euryapteryx gravis, E. curtus, and Pachyornis geranoides) tended to inhabit drier forest and shrubland habitats. , Joel Polack, a trader who lived on the East Coast of the North Island from 1834 to 1837, recorded in 1838 that he had been shown "several large fossil ossifications" found near Mt Hikurangi.  Moa nesting material has also been recovered from rock shelters in the Central Otago region of the South Island, where the dry climate has preserved plant material used to build the nesting platform (including twigs clipped by moa bills). Then, about 600 years ago, they abruptly went extinct. Moa, any of several extinct ostrichlike flightless birds native to New Zealand that make up the order Dinornithiformes.  The idea was ridiculed by many, but gained support from some natural history experts.. Formerly, some authorities argued that these birds and the penguins arose independently from cursorial reptiles, but it is now generally agreed that all of them passed through a flying stage in the course of their evolution. "Morphology, myology, collagen and DNA of a mummified moa, "Mummified moa remains from Mt. For example, before 2003, three species of Dinornis were recognised: South Island giant moa (D. robustus), North Island giant moa (D. novaezealandiae), and slender moa (D. struthioides). The preserved leg of M. didinus from the Old Man Range reveals that this species was feathered right down to the foot. Although the larger moas probably became extinct by the end of the 17th century, a few smaller species may have survived into the 19th. DNA evidence suggests that moas are related to South American tinamous.  Preliminary work involving the extraction of DNA has been undertaken by Japanese geneticist Ankoh Yasuyuki Shirota. themysteriousworld.com/most-dangerous-birds/, prehistoric-wildlife.com/articles/moa-birds.html, Fossils of a new species of giant parrot found in New Zealand, nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/08/fossils-15-pound-parrot-found-new-zealand-kakapo/, telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/7405923/ ... -elephant-bird-of-Madagascar-could-live-again.html, blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/the- ... hostse28099-of-extinct-birds-in-modern-ecosystems/, study.com/academy/lesson/moa-facts-lesson-for-kids.html, newshub.co.nz/home/world/2019/06/ancient-bird-twice-the-size-of-the-moa-found-in-crimea.html, sciblogs.co.nz/lost-worlds/2019/05/13/how-to-make-a-flightless-bird/. The number of different species is in dispute, estimates varying from 9 to 64. , Fragments of moa eggshell are often found in archaeological sites and sand dunes around the New Zealand coast. The thin nature of the eggshells of these larger species of moa, even if incubated by the male, suggests that egg breakage in these species would have been common if the typical contact method of avian egg incubation was used.  These may eventually be classified as species or subspecies; Megalapteryx benhami (Archey) is synonymised with M. didinus (Owen) because the bones of both share all essential characters.