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Mummified moa remains from Mt Owen, northwest Nelson

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... A radiocarbon date of 861930 yr BP was obtained for the specimen (Anderson et al. 2010) (Supplementary file 6). Desiccated muscle, not bone, was used to date the specimen, meaning the age could be biased by bacterial contamination introducing modern carbon into the sample (Geyh et al. 1974; Worthy 1989 ). In addition, depositional environment (dry versus damp) and collagen pretreatment (bulk versus ultrafiltration) will also bias the radiocarbon date (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2004a,b; Jacobi et al. 2006). ...
... Anderson et al. (2010) radiocarbon-dated desiccated muscle from the specimen and obtained an age of 631930 yr BP (Supplementary file 6). However, the young age on the soft tissue may reflect bacterial contamination introducing modern carbon into the sample (Geyh et al. 1974; Worthy 1989). Close examination of this specimen by JRW showed that a small bare patch on the lateral side of the upper left tibiotarsus was an area of active moult (Fig. 7). ...
... In January 1987, members of the New Zealand Speleological Society discovered the remains of a small M. didinus in the junction of Blowhole and Whalesmouth Caves, Mount Owen, northwest Nelson (Worthy 1989; NMNZ S.23808) (Fig. 1). The remains consisted of a right mandible, vertebrae, ribs, pelvis, left and right tibiotarsus, left and right fibula, right tarsometatarsus , left and right phalanges, left femur and tracheal rings (Worthy 1989). Most of the bones had preserved soft tissue attached to them. ...
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We provide the first complete review of soft tissue remains from New Zealand birds that became extinct prior to European settlement (c. AD 1800). These rare specimens allow insights into the anatomy and appearance of the birds that are not attainable from bones. Our review includes previously unpublished records of ‘lost’ specimens, and descriptions of recently discovered specimens such as the first evidence of soft tissues from the South Island goose (Cnemiornis calcitrans). Overall, the soft tissue remains are dominated by moa (with specimens from each of the six genera), but also include specimens from Finsch’s duck (Chenonetta finschi) and the New Zealand owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles novaezealandiae). All desiccated soft tissue specimens that have radiocarbon or stratigraphic dates are late Holocene in age, and most have been found in the semi-arid region of Central Otago.
... These species are relatively well known osteologically because of New Zealand's rich late Quaternary avifaunal fossil record (Worthy & Holdaway 2002). While most are known only from their bones, a few partially mummified remains have also been found (Anderson 1989;Worthy 1989;Vickers-Rich et al. 1995), while isolated feathers have been recovered from a range of late Holocene rockshelter sediments (Wood 2008;Wood et al. 2008). The majority of subfossil feathers found in New Zealand have been attributed to the extinct palaeognathus (ratite) moa (Aves: Dinornithiformes), although none has been confirmed genetically. ...
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Feathers are known to contain amplifiable DNA at their base (calamus) and have provided an important genetic source from museum specimens. However, feathers in subfossil deposits generally only preserve the upper shaft and feather 'vane' which are thought to be unsuitable for DNA analysis. We analyse subfossil moa feathers from Holocene New Zealand rockshelter sites and demonstrate that both ancient DNA and plumage information can be recovered from their upper portion, allowing species identification and a means to reconstruct the appearance of extinct taxa. These ancient DNA sequences indicate that the distal portions of feathers are an untapped resource for studies of museum, palaeontological and modern specimens. We investigate the potential to reconstruct the plumage of pre-historically extinct avian taxa using subfossil remains, rather than assuming morphological uniformity with closely related extant taxa. To test the notion of colour persistence in subfossil feathers, we perform digital comparisons of feathers of the red-crowned parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae) excavated from the same horizons as the moa feathers, with modern samples. The results suggest that the coloration of the moa feathers is authentic, and computer software is used to perform plumage reconstructions of moa based on subfossil remains.
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Dinornis robustus and Emeus crassus display two variants of moa locomotor adaptations, Emeus being less cursorial. The number and topography of their pelvic muscles are similar and resemble that of Tinamiformes and geographically close Apterygiformes and Casuariiformes. Nevertheless, a number of features are probably peculiar to Dinornithiformes. The strong iliotibiales and iliofemoralis externus muscles, which prevent passive adduction of the femur, far surpass the bulk recorded for these muscles in other birds. The iliofemoralis internus muscle has a unique insertion to the cranial surface of the femur distal to the femoral head, although further inspection of mummified remains is required to prove this. The less modified pelvic muscles of moa in comparison with that of Apterygiformes, Casuariiformes, Rheiformes, and Struthioniformes are related to the retention in Dinornithiformes of the wide pelvis.
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The avifauna from the Glencrieff swamp deposit in North Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand, is described. Radiocarbon ages of moa bones bracket miring at the site to between 10,000 and 12,000 (uncalibrated) years BP. Heavy-footed moa (Pachyornis elephantopus) and eastern moa (Emeus crassus) dominated the moa assemblage at the site, while South Island giant moa (Dinornis robustus) and stout-legged moa (Euryapteryx curtus, formerly E. gravis (in part)) were rare. The total assemblage from the site consists of at least 1896 bones from 18 species of birds, of which nine are extinct and a further three locally extinct. In addition, we report on the discovery of the oldest known moa gizzard contents, the palynology of the Glencrieff deposit and comment on significant recent changes in site preservation conditions that are threatening the continued preservation of this significant fossil deposit.
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In 1980 a partially mummified moa was found in a rock shelter in the Echo Valley, 15 km due east of Lake Te Anau, Southland, New Zealand. It is the only specimen of Anomalopteryx didiformis found so far with skin and feather remains still attached. This paper describes the location and the remains; records the measurements of the tarsometatarsus and skull and compares them with other Anomalopteryx didiformis specimens from Southland; and maps the distribution of finds of this species in Southland.
excavated most of the recovered material. LITERATURE CITED COUGHTREY, M. 1875. Anatomy of moa remains found at Earnscleugh Cave
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Bartle, excavated most of the recovered material. LITERATURE CITED COUGHTREY, M. 1875. Anatomy of moa remains found at Earnscleugh Cave. Trans. NZ Inst. 9: 141-144.
Moa remains from Knobby Range
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Anatomy of moa remains found at Earnscleugh Cave
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COUGHTREY, M. 1875. Anatomy of moa remains found at Earnscleugh Cave. Trans. NZ Inst. 9: 141-144.