True Colours

The oldest moa feathers yet discovered and their DNA are providing New Zealand and Australian scientists with clues to the plumage of the giant bird – perhaps not unlike a giant chicken and speckled in appearance. Scientists from Landcare Research and Adelaide University identified four different moa species after gathering ancient DNA from moa feathers believed to be at least 2500 years old. Adelaide University doctoral researcher Nicolas Rawlence says usually when artists reconstruct the big bird, they refer to related species, like the Australian emu, as a model for its plumage. But do moa really look like emus? By digitally comparing the colour of ancient red-crowned parakeet feathers found alongside the moa feathers, with living parakeet feathers, the researchers could determine that the feathers at the site had not faded. Recreated feathers produced the same speckled plumage as seen in the kiwi.


Tags: moa  Radio Australia  

New Zealand Ramps up Plans to Purge All Pests

New Zealand Ramps up Plans to Purge All Pests

There are strains on New Zealand’s environment. In this corner of the South Pacific, waterways are increasingly polluted and, from the suburbs to the alpine peaks, an untold army of feral…