152. Moa


Moa is an extinct New Zealand bird. The Moa were eleven species of flightless birds, endemic to New Zealand. The two largest species reached a height of 12 feet with their necks out stretched and weighed a massive 510 pounds!

These eleven species of Moa were the only wingless birds, which lacked even the vestigial wings the other ratites have.

They were dominant herbivores in New Zealand for thousands of years until the arrival of Maori, who hunted down the Moa unscrupulously.The only other natural enemy of Moa was the Haast’s eagle.

Moa seems to have fed on a range of plant species, plant parts, fibrous twigs, leaves of trees and shrubs. Like many other birds, Moa swallowed gizzard stones to provide a grinding action to digest the coarse plant materials eaten. Several kilograms of smooth, rounded, quartz pebbles were consumed by the Moa.

Moa bones are commonly found in caves and vertical cave shafts. The birds who might have entered to nest must have died there. Others who fell down the vertical shafts must have found escape impossible and died there.

There are speculations that Moa may still exist in the South Westland and Fiordland. Experts feel that this is most unlikely in a region visited by hunters and hikers, as these birds are large, flightless, ground dwellers.

Visalakshi Ramani

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