Where are all the males? – ancient DNA raises questions about extinct moa populations
The skeletons of female (larger, background) and male (smaller, foreground) Dinornis robustus, with a pigeon skeleton for comparison. From Allentoft et al 2010.
A little more than 700 years ago, multiple species of the gigantic, flightless birds called moas were still running around New Zealand. They ranged over almost the entirety of the North and South Islands, from the coast to the mountain forests, but when the Maori people arrived in the late 13th century the birds were quickly driven to extinction. Within a few hundred years they were entirely wiped out (along with the immense Haast’s eagle, which fed on the moas), but fortunately for scientists these birds left behind vast accumulations of bones.