THE MOA - Extinct
giant moa Dinornis robustus and D. novaezealandiae were
the tallest birds on Earth - with the top of their back
two metres above the ground.
Moa were the most significant alternative to mammals
on New Zealand, taking the role of the largest dominant
herbivores, the same role as large animals such as deer
and elephants in other lands.
Research in 2009 identifies nine species, with three
genera and six species in the Emeidae family, two Dinornis
species in the Dinornithidae family, and one Megalapterygidae
species. Moa are the only species in the Dinornithiformes
order, and together with New Zealand's iconic species,
kiwi and tuatara, have endemic distinction at order
Moa were the dominant herbivore in the New Zealand
ecosystem, and another biological peculiarity, which
evolutionary scientists relate to the prolonged isolation,
size, and geographical complexity of the country, and
the scarcity of terrestrial mammals.
New Zealand is Earth's largest oceanic archipelago,
and the most distant from any continental land mass,
which together with a mixed topography, provided the
conditions for natural selection processes that produced
varied evolutionary outcomes.