STL Science Center

STL Science Center

24 April 2015

Rule Breaker

John van Voorst
I think I may be breaking some sort of unwritten rule this week with the animal I want to discuss. While certainly extinct, the extinction event that we are concerned with this week is only approximately 600 years ago. Possibly the last near-remnants of the great "Terrorbird" times, the original Polynesian colonizers of New Zealand managed to hunt all 6 genera of Dinornithes or Moa to extinction within about 200 years of encountering the giant birds. The reason I consider these recently, geologically speaking, avians worthy of being discussed in a paleontology minded sphere is because they were definitely worthy of their name of Dinosaur Birds. Not only were they enormous, but Moas were also completely wingless and in control of the landscape because their only natural predators were eagles native to the islands. Hold in there dinosaur fans, they will be back soon. Actually, remember that dinosaurs gave rise to birds, so we are still talking about dinosaurs here with our Moas!

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