New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2012) 36(2): 164-170

First coprolite evidence for the diet of Anomalopteryx didiformis, an extinct forest ratite from New Zealand

Research Article
Jamie R. Wood 1*
Janet M. Wilmshurst 1
Trevor H. Worthy 2
Alan Cooper 3
  1. Landcare Research, PO Box 40, Lincoln, Canterbury 7640, New Zealand
  2. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, New South Wales, Australia
  3. Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Darling Building, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia
*  Corresponding author
Abstract: 

Evidence of diet has been reported for all genera of extinct New Zealand moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes), using preserved gizzard content and coprolites, except the forest-dwelling Anomalopteryx. Skeletal features of the little bush moa (Anomalopteryx didiformis) have led to competing suggestions that it may have either browsed trees and shrubs or grubbed for fern rhizomes. Here, we analyse pollen assemblages from two coprolites, identified by ancient DNA analysis as having been deposited by Anomalopteryx didiformis. The pollen results, together with identified fragments of leaf cuticles from the coprolites, support the hypothesis that Anomalopteryx didiformis browsed trees and shrubs in the forest understorey.