Moa and Moa Hunting

When the first East Polynesians reached New Zealand, the giant flightless moa bird was still abundant through out the country.  It is estimated  that before this the total population was between half a million and two and a half million birds.
Numerous archaeological sites attest to the importance of moa meat in the early Maori diet.
Hunting contributed to the moa’s extinction long before Europeans arrived. About 300 moa-hunting butchery sites have been recorded; 230 in the South Island and 75 in the North Island. A genetic study of moa fossils has pointed to humans who arrived in the late 13th century as the sole perpetrator of the birds’ extinction. Prior to that, during the previous 4,000 years, the birds’ numbers were stable. 
A major discovery at Pyramid Valley in 1938  enabled scientists to begin to learn what the moa ate and how they bred and behaved, leading to a much fuller understanding of moa ecology.
Further understanding came after 1984 when Trevor Worthy began to map Honeycomb Hilll. Using radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis the number of moa species was whittled down to nine. It was found that some of the complication had been that the Moa had RSD (reversed sexual di-morphism) with the female much larger than the male.


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