Moa remains found

16:00, Dec 02 2012
Moa skeleton
The find with the smaller skeleton of a kiwi. Photo: E H Buckley.

Complete Skeleton for museum
Discovery made at Wakapatu

A big number of moa bones, from which it is hoped to assemble a compete skeleton for the Southland Museum, was discovered on Saturday in the sand at Wakapatu, near Colac Bay, by Mr J. H. Sorensen, director of the museum, and Mr S. Ward.

The biggest portion of the collection consists of the bones of a moa of the smaller species, a bird that would have been about eight feet in height. Most of the bones in complete skeleton were recovered, and it is hoped to find the rest. Small parts of the leg bones of an immature bird were also picked up, but they are regarded as of scientific interest only.

The collection also includes a led bones and a set of toe bones which Mr Sorensen believes are the remains of a moa that was 12 feet in height. Although he does not expect to find the rest of the bones to complete the skeleton, he hopes to discover the tarsus and so piece together the whole leg, this enabling some idea of the size of the bird to be obtained. The bones of the bigger bird indicated that its foot was over 11 or 12 inches long.

The remains of at least 20 other moas were seem, but there were in such a bad state that it was impossible to save any of the bones, which had been uncovered as a result of drifting sand.

Among the remains were heaps of small white pebbles, which had come from the crops of the birds. The pebbles, said Mr Sorensen, were an aid to digestion and were retained in the crops until they were worn out.

From one set of bones the pebbles picked up weighed 4lb 15oz and from another they weighed 4lb 13oz.

They will in future form exhibits at the museum.


The Southland Times