Scientists Are Studying New Zealand's Extinct Moa Bird

It seems we can study what animals looked like even though they are extinct. Australian and New Zealand scientists are studying prehistoric feathers to find out what birds were like. DNA has been obtained from the extinct Moa bird of New Zealand from feathers 2,500 years old. Moa are thought to have been still alive 1200 years ago It was 8 feet tall and could not fly. Material has been gleaned from three types of Moa: the stout legged; the heavy footed; and the upland Moa.

Somehow they have worked out that wing feathers had speckled white tips. This was to camouflage the bird from predators. The very large Haast eagle once existed that preyed on them. It is claimed that because the plumage of other flightless NZ birds is dull with speckled tips this idea is valid.

The scientists plan to get feathers from the end of the quill and further down the quill to compare coloration. It is hoped the findings will enable researchers to correctly reconstruct life-like models of extinct birds.

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