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MOA NECKS - HIGH, LOW, OR BOTH?
It's taken me three days of wading thru old emails and several
computer crashes to get to here, but.. Greg Paul recently wrote...
> The suggestion on this list, following others work, that moas held
> their necks low may be incorrect. Maori rock art shows them holding
> their necks high.
I presume Greg is referring to the Maori rock painting at Craigmore,
South Island. This painting has been much reproduced and shows three
large, ostrich-like birds which are presumably dinornithid moa. They
are holding their necks in an erect ostrich-like pose.
This may indicate, as Greg suggests, that all moa did walk around
like erect-necked ostriches, and not like 'loop-necked' cassowaries.
However; (1) the animals in the painting are dinornithids, and thus
may not typify all moa species (all but three of which were emeids),
(2) the animals are drawn following an observation in which they were
almost certainly being harrassed by human hunters, and thus may be
standing in an alert posture; and (3) the animals are stylised.
Morphological (viz, the way the moa neck 'plugs in' to the
occiput) and ecological evidence (i.e., we know that moa were
medium-height browsers) indicates that moa were not particularly tall
in the neck. Also, other bush-dwelling ratites are low-necked and it
has been suggested (Bertram 1985) that 'the constantly erect-necked
ostrich profile is suited for a savannah lifestyle where big cats
represent a threat. It would not be ordinarily beneficial to moa'
Indeed, the fact that old mounts restore moa as
super-tall ostrich-like birds reflects the belief at the time that
moa *were* super-tall ostriches. Having said this, I have no strong
opinion on moa posture and admit that the evidence is inconclusive:
'That moa were relatively low and horizontal in posture like emus
and cassowaries ('loop-necked' according to Halliday (1978)) is
equally likely or, according to some (Cooper et al. 1993), more
likely. More contemporary skeletal mounts, such as those on display
at the Waitomo Caves Museum and the Museum of New Zealand, depict moa
in this way. I imagine that moa walked in a cassowary-like horizontal
posture, but reared up to create an erect-necked ostrich-like profile
when high-browsing. This is only an opinion and is not based on
data..' (Naish 1998).
In a gratutious act of self-citation, the ref for this is..
NAISH, D.W. 1998. Cryptozoology of the moa: a review (part one). _The
Cryptozoology Review_ 2 (3): 15-24.
"You can say , 'roses and other flowers', but you cannot say ,
'flowers and other roses'".