Thursday throwback: Moa skeleton, 1982

Last updated 14:26 07/02/2013
Fairfax NZ.

WORTHY FIND: This giant moa skeleton was found in 1982 in a Waitomo cave by part-time museum worker Trevor Worthy.

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When part-time museum worker Trevor Worthy went for a spot of casual cave exploring one Saturday afternoon in 1982 he stumbled upon something other than your usual pile of rocks.

Climbing down through a hole in a the ceiling of Brier's Cave, he virtually fell onto the ancient skeleton of a giant moa.

The three-metre tall member of the second-biggest species that ever lived had, thousands of years before, fallen through the same hole.

The bird had wandered around for a while, searching for a route back to the surface. There was no way out, and no food in the chamber that marked the end of the search.

So the moa sat back on its haunches and waited. Hunger took it toll, and eventually the long neck slumps forward to lie stretched along the ground.

And after what could have been several weeks the moa starved to death without changing position.
It sat there for centuries, waiting unwittingly to fulfil its destiny as a treasured relic of a forgotten age.

Mr Worthy carefully packed up the skeleton in boxes and it eventually was put back together and went on display in the Waitomo Caves Museum.

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