Due to a lack of mammalian predators, birds in New Zealand evolved in a unique manner. One of the adaptations in New Zealand was gigantism. Birds such as the moa (Dinornithiformes) evolved into large, flightless creatures – a role usually the reserve of mammals. They browsed vegetation and nested on the ground. The word ‘moa’ means ‘chicken’ in many Polynesian languages, but the Polynesian arrivals (ancestors of Māori) must have been amazed by how tall the moa of New Zealand were. They were hunted to extinction, probably within 100–200 years.
Using this item
Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.