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DinornithidaeFossil, Moa
Dr. Jessie Maisano - The University of Texas at Austin
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American Museum of Natural History (AMNH FR 70)

Image processing: Dr. Jessie Maisano
Publication Date: 25 Feb 2002


Moa (Dinornithiformes) are extinct palaeognath birds (other ratites include the extinct elephant bird and the extant ostrich, emu, kiwi, tinamou, and rhea). Moa inhabited New Zealand until the 1600s, when they were most likely hunted into extinction by the indigenous Maori people.

The oldest known moa specimen dates to just 2.4 million years before present, and some specimens include mummified skin and feathers. There were 11 species of moa, ranging from 20 to 250 kg (44 to 551 lb). While the largest moa (Dinornis giganteus) stood an impressive 2 meters tall at the shoulder, New Zealand was home to an equally impressive giant eagle (Harpagornis) capable of killing an adult moa.

About the Species

This specimen was made available to the University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning courtesy of Dr. Joel Cracraft of the American Museum of Natural History and Mr. Jackson Dodd and Dr. Timothy Rowe of the Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin. Funding for scanning was provided by a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative grant to Dr. Rowe.

moa skull
A photograph of the specimen before scanning.
About this Specimen

The specimen was scanned by Richard Ketcham on 11 January 2002 along the coronal axis for a total of 533 slices, each slice 0.5 mm thick, with an interslice spacing of 0.4 mm (for a slice overlap of 0.1 mm).

About the

Anderson, A. 1984. The extinction of moa in southern New Zealand, pp. 728-740. In P. Martin and R. Klein (eds.), Quaternary Extinctions: A Prehistoric Revolution. University of Arizona Press, Tuscon

Worthy, T. H. 1989. Validation of Pachyornis australis Oliver (Aves: Dinornithiformes), a medium-sized moa from the South Island, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 32:255-266.

Worthy, T. H., A. R. Edwards, and P. R. Millener. 1991. The fossil record of moas (Aves: Dinornithiformes) older than the Otira (last) Glaciation. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 21:101-118.


Mike Dickison's Moa Pages, including a gallery of moa images and an annotated bibliography

Archaeology's online moa article discussing the role of humans in moa extinction

& Links

None available.


To cite this page: Dr. Jessie Maisano, 2002, "Dinornithidae" (On-line), Digital Morphology. Accessed July 21, 2024 at http://digimorph.org/specimens/Dinornithiformes/.

©2002-20019 - UTCT/DigiMorph Funding by NSF