Ancient DNA

A partial skeleton provides evidence for the former occurrence of moa populations on Rakiura Stewart Island

The pre-human moa fauna of Rakiura Stewart Island is poorly known, and although there is little clear evidence that moa occurred naturally on the island, isolated moa bones are often found associated with archaeological middens. Here we report the discovery and collection of what is likely a naturally deposited partial South Island giant moa (Dinornis robustus) skeleton from West Ruggedy Beach, Rakiura, radiocarbon dated to 1297–1395 CE (95.4% CI). The time of death of this moa overlaps with the early occupation of the island by Māori.

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

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.