Until the 18th century, the giant ratite birds Moa lived in New Zealand. They, like ostriches, did not have wings (and even their rudiments), reached a height of about 3.5 m and weighed about 250 kg. With such dimensions in terms of brain volume, moa were close to pigeons.
These herbivorous birds are believed to have been destroyed by the Maori aborigines. According to unconfirmed evidence, some representatives of this species were still found in the late 18th - early 19th centuries.
At the present time, alas, we can see moa only in exhibition halls: in the form of skeletons.
Scientists examined the remains of 227 birds found in two major excavation sites in New Zealand. The excellent condition of the birds' bones allowed scientists to isolate DNA from them. Moreover, the specialists were able to obtain not only samples of short mitochondrial DNA, but also fragments of the nuclear DNA of moa. DNA analysis shows that the closest modern relative of the moa is not the ostrich, as previously assumed, but a small bird called Tinamu, only 20-40 centimeters long.
Based on the data obtained, scientists came to the conclusion that the appearance of the Kiwi tribe on the islands could have occurred from 70 to 30 million years ago, after the separation of New Zealand from the ancient mainland of Gondwana, while the moa inhabited these lands much earlier. It is a pity that these birds did not survive only a couple of centuries before the appearance of the "Red Book" and the organization "Greenpeace".