Image Feathers of upland moa

TLF ID R2470

This is a set of seven feathers from the extinct upland moa ('Megalapteryx didinus'). They were collected by R A Falla in 1947, when he was the director of the Dominion Museum (forerunner to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) in Wellington. He probably collected them from a cave in Takahe Valley in Fiordland National Park in the south of the South Island. The larger feathers measure approximately 12 cm x 1.5 cm.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset indicates that moa once inhabited New Zealand (moa is the Mäori and Polynesian word for fowl) - one of 11 species identified to date, the upland moa is thought to have become extinct at least 370 years ago, due to extensive hunting by Mäori and the clearing of large areas of land for crop cultivation.
  • It depicts feathers whose purpose was warmth rather than flight - the upland moa adapted to New Zealand's land-based predator-free environment by becoming flightless; it further adapted to life on the ground by growing feathers on its feet to help keep it warm in the harsh alpine environment.
  • It is evidence that the feathers of the upland moa could be found up to 300 years after the bird became extinct.
  • It indicates, by the size of the feathers, that the upland moa was relatively small in size - at about 1 metre tall, it was around the size of a turkey, while the giant moa ('Dinornis giganteus') stood over 4 metres tall.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
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  • Name: the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements