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It's a true bird. After all it has no teeth, a horney beak, and is still
I don't think these characters alone qualify the moa as birds.
Ornithomimids and oviraptorids have no teeth and probably had a horny beak.
In fact, many other theropods (eg. segnosaurs/therizinosaurs) and most
ornithischians) probably had some sort of horny beak (loftily described as a
"cornified rhamphotheca" in some texts).
New Zealand was reduced to a few tiny islands during the Eocene and
Oligocene, which were unable to support large, warm blooded life forms.
Three island-dwelling species (or subspecies) of emu have been described,
from islands south of the Australian mainland. Unfortunately, all three
went extinct in the 19th century: the King Island emu, Kangaroo Island emu,
and the Tasmanian emu. I know the King Island emu (_Dromaius minor_) was
smaller than its mainland counterpart (_D. novaehollandiae), though it was
still quite a hefty-sized bird - and King Island is a very small island.
Kangaroo Island is also a teeny island, but I'm not sure how big its native
emu (_D. baudinianus_) was. The third extinct emu species, the Tasmanian
emu (_D. diemenensis_), comes from Australia's largest island (Tasmania) and
of the three non-mainland species, it the one most often regarded as a
subspecies of _D. novaehollandiae_.
And don't forget, Europe was a marshy archipelago for much of the Mesozoic
Era. Think of how many large-bodied dinosaurs we've found there. Sure, the
ankylosaurs and titanosaurs may have been smaller than their mainland
relatives, but they were still pretty big.
In the modern era, if elephants and equines can survive on little islands -
again as dwarf species, but again, still fairly massive - then why not large
birds? I'm prepared to believe that the ancestors of the modern moa arrived
in New Zealand during the Mesozoic.
<< >Moa posessed no wing bones (not even vestigiel ones); [...] had a
>type of feather more suited to body insulation / protection than flying;
>laid large eggs in a ground nest; [snip]
I think the same is actually true for kiwis too. >>
No it ain't. kiwis have teensy wings with two(!) claws on each. They sleep
with their beaks tucked under the wings.
Yep, you're right. I remember seeing a kiwi doing that exact thing.
Timothy J. Williams
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014
Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax: 515 294 3163
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