But wait, there’s moa!

20 01 2009

Good tidings and well -wishes! Please ignore that criminally-bad pun…

While feces are rarely newsworthy and almost never exciting in the modern sense (particularly when they emerge from our avian friends), a recent analysis of ancient giant moa (Dinornis sp.) droppings contrasts this trend by offering a fascinating insight as to what these gigantic (and entirely wingless) birds were actually dining upon.

a modern Kiwi, a modern Ostrich, and a giant Moa with their respective eggs.

From left to right: a modern Kiwi, a modern Ostrich, and a giant Moa with their respective eggs.

According to the study, which examined over 1,500 coprolites (fossil droppings),  moas were primarily ingesting herbs and other small plants, rather than grazing on grasses and bushes as they had been previously assumed to have done. The article goes on to point out that since many of these plants would have been toxic to the species synthetically introduced to New Zealand, it’s likely that the massive birds specifically co-evolved with their cuisine of choice; a practice common in relatively remote areas.

For more information on these fascinating birds, do go here.

May the fossil record continue to enchant us all!

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