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Did humans wipe out New Zealand's Moa ?

Posted on Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 | Comment icon 40 comments

The flightless moa went extinct in the 13th century. Image Credit: Heinrich Harder
Were we solely responsible for the species' extinction or were there other factors at work ?
New Zealand had been home to several species of moa for millions of years until around 600 years ago when they disappeared at around the same time as the first humans arrived on the islands.

Researchers naturally concluded that hunting and other human activities were responsible for their demise, however the possibility of other factors, such as disease or even a natural disaster like a volcanic eruption, had not been ruled out.

In a new study of moa bone remains, scientists have been able to piece together the clearest evidence to date that it was indeed almost exclusively human hunting that wiped out the birds. In addition to this the findings suggest that our ancestors may have been responsible for the disappearance of a great many species of animals all across the world.

"We like to think of indigenous people as living in harmony with nature," said evolutionary biologist Morten Allentoft. "But this is rarely the case. Humans everywhere will take what they need to survive. That's how it works."

Source: | Comments (40)

Tags: Moa, New Zealand

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #31 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 19 March, 2014, 23:04
Eat moa possum. There! I said it!
Comment icon #32 Posted by MordorOrc on 20 March, 2014, 6:11
There are some claims that moa still survive. And if they didn't it doesn't necessarily mean that the massive species of moa did, seeing as there were more than one.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Hugh on 20 March, 2014, 7:11
There used to be lots, now there's no moa.
Comment icon #34 Posted by psyche101 on 20 March, 2014, 8:05
No, the Tenth Doctor gets fed up with following the rules and jaunts all over the place saving lives against the rules, including Sarah Jane Smiths son, whom he pulls away from a speeding car, saving his life Mate, I got a little Dalek on my desk, a small K9, and a couple Tee Shirts, as well as almost the entire series except the missing episodes. I am quite the fan Have been since I was about 8. I bet there were delicious, imagine a Moa Drumstick!! Crikey Moses!
Comment icon #35 Posted by Hida Akechi on 20 March, 2014, 18:00
Oh, I saw what you did there...
Comment icon #36 Posted by Saitung on 21 March, 2014, 11:05
Yes, it's always man. Which is why it’s a very silly notion to ever think we will place the needs of a lessor species above the needs and progress of our technical society. So sparing a lone fish, an Owl, and even a Deer in the wake of progress is never going to prevail for too long. Especially when we do the very same thing to members of our OWN species.
Comment icon #37 Posted by taniwha on 22 March, 2014, 5:52
Sad but true
Comment icon #38 Posted by taniwha on 22 March, 2014, 7:28
There is also a theory that the moa might have fallen victim in part to an asteroid impact several centuries ago. This caused uncontrollable fires that burnt many years and spread hundreds of miles into the mountainous high country. There is evidence that the tussocklands of today were once richly forested. There is also evidence that the moa hunters pre dated the arrival of Maori, I found this archive footage interesting.
Comment icon #39 Posted by DieChecker on 23 March, 2014, 3:36
Well to be fair, on an island, if a pregnant dog washed up, or a venomous snake showed up and laid eggs, they would soon wipe out the native environment. It is just that man is sooooooooo veryyyyyy gooooood at bring invasive species where ever we go. But on a small island, any invasive species will have big consequences.
Comment icon #40 Posted by White Crane Feather on 27 March, 2014, 14:45
Man has ways of living in harmony, only many don't follow, so I'm not sure what good it does.

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