Mantell's moa

Pachyornis geranoides (Owen, 1848)

Order: Dinornithiformes

Family: Emeidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

Other names: Mappin's moa, Mantells moa, Mappins moa

 
 
 
Mantell's moa. Mantell’s moa (Pachyornis geranoides). Image 2006-0010-1/21 from the series 'Extinct birds of New Zealand'. Masterton. Image © Purchased 2006. © Te Papa by Paul Martinson See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=710920&term=Mantell%e2%80%99s+moa

Mantell's moa. Mantell’s moa (Pachyornis geranoides). Image 2006-0010-1/21 from the series 'Extinct birds of New Zealand'. Masterton. Image © Purchased 2006. © Te Papa by Paul Martinson See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=710920&term=Mantell%e2%80%99s+moa

The smallest of three moa species in the genus Pachyornis, Mantell's moa vied with the little bush moa for the title of smallest of all moa species. It was one of two moa species that were confined to the North Island and Aotea/Great Barrier Island, the other being the North Island giant moa. Adult females were markedly larger than adult males; the average size increased further south and during glacial periods. Its remains are abundant in archaeological sites, indicating that it was hunted for food. It was probably preyed on by the large North Island Eyles' harrier. The species was named after Walter Mantell, a pioneering New Zealand naturalist, government administrator and politician of the 1800s. DNA study suggests that moa were more closely related to the flighted South American tinamou than to the kiwi.

Identification

Mantell’s moa was a robust, small moa. As with several moa species, adult females were much larger than males.

Similar species: of the four moa species that occurred in the North Island, Mantell’s moa was most likely to have been confused with the equally small but more slender little bush moa, or small individuals of the stout-legged moa. It differed from the latter in being stouter, with a more elongated skull.

Distribution and habitat

Mantell’s moa was endemic to the North Island, where it was mainly found in lowland areas, particularly wetlands and dunelands, including in the Far North, coastal Taranaki, and Hawke’s Bay.

Population

Bones of Mantell’s moa are abundant in archaeological sites, indicating that it was widely hunted for food.

Threats and conservation

The main cause of extinction was overhunting by humans. Moa chicks may also have been eaten by the introduced Polynesian dog (kuri).

Breeding

The scant information deduced about moa breeding ecology is also likely to apply to Mantell’s moa, namely delayed maturity, pairs breeding well separated from each other, small clutch size, male-only incubation, and a long incubation period.

Behaviour and ecology

Little is known about the ecology of Mantell’s moa. It was probably preyed on by the large North Island form of Eyles' harrier.

Food

The sturdy bill of Mantell’s moa suggests that it had a fibrous diet.

Weblinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantell%27s_Moa

References

Anderson, A. 1989. Prodigious birds: moas and moa-hunting in prehistoric New Zealand. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Baker, A. J.; Haddrath, O.; McPherson, J. D.; Cloutier, A. 2014. Genomic support for a moa-tinamou clade and adaptive morphological convergence in flightless ratites. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol 31, Issue 6.

Bunce, M.; Worthy, T.H.; Phillips, M.J.; Holdaway, R.N.; Willersley, E.; Haile, J.; Shapiro, B.; Scofield, R.P.; Drummond, A.; Kamp, P.J.J.; Cooper, A. 2009. The evolutionary history of the extinct ratite moa and New Zealand neogene paleogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106: 20646-20651.

Gill, B.; Martinson, P. 1991. New Zealand's extinct birds. Random Century, New Zealand.

Huynen, L.; Gill, B.J.; Millar, C.D.; Lambert, D.M. 2010. Ancient DNA reveals extreme egg morphology and nesting behavior in New Zealand’s extinct moa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 107: 16201-16206.

Phillips, M.J.; Gibb, G.C.; Crimp, E.A.; Penny, D. 2010. Tinamous and moa flock together: mitochondrial genome sequence analysis reveals independent losses of flight among ratites. Systematic Biology 59: 90-107.

Rawlence, N.J.; Wood, J.R.; Armstrong, K.N.; Cooper, A. 2009. DNA content and distribution in ancient feathers and potential to reconstruct the plumage of extinct avian taxa. Proceedings of the Royal Society. B 7 (1672): 3395-3402.

Szabo, M. 2005. Hobbit-sized raptor became 'Lord of the Wings'. Forest & Bird, May 2005, Issue 316: 12.

Szabo, M. 2006. Extinct birds of New Zealand: a preview. Forest & Bird, November 2006, Issue 322: 22-24.

Tennyson, A.; Martinson, P. 2006. Extinct birds of New Zealand. Te Papa Press, Wellington.

Tennyson, A.J.D. 2010. Dinornithiformes. Pp. 11-18. In: Checklist Committee (OSNZ) Checklist of the birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica (4th ed.). Ornithological Society of New Zealand & Te Papa Press, Wellington.

Wood, J.R. 2008. Moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes) nesting material from rockshelters in the semi-arid interior of South Island, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 38: 115-129.

Wood, J.R.; Wilmshurst, J.M.; Wagstaff, S.J.; Worthy, T.H.; Rawlence, N.J. et al. 2012. High-resolution coproecology: using coprolites to reconstruct the habits and habitats of New Zealand’s extinct upland moa (Megalapteryx didinus). PLoS ONE 7: e40025.

Worthy, T.H.; Holdaway, R.N. 2002. The lost world of the moa: prehistoric life in New Zealand. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.

Worthy, T.H.; Scofield, R.P. 2012. Twenty-first century advances in knowledge of the biology of moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes): a morphological analysis and diagnosis revised. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 39: 87-153.

Recommended citation

Szabo, M.J. 2013 [updated 2017]. Mantell's moa. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Mantell's moa

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