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Staus: officially extinct  Family: Dinornis

This is perhaps New Zealands best known cryptid. This large flightless bird is a relative of the kiwi and the Australian emu. It is thought to have died out about 500 years ago, although some speculate that a few stragglers may have persisted in remote corners of New Zealand until the 18th or 19th centuries. Their extinction is now attributed to hunting and forest clearance by the Polynesian ancestors of the Māori, who settled in New Zealand a few hundred years earlier.  Moa were hunted by Haast's Eagle, the world's largest eagle, which is also now extinct.

Moas are unique in having no wings at all, not even small wings resiudual wings, unlike other ratites. Ten species of varying sizes are known, with the largest species, the giant moa (Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae), reaching nearly 4m in height and about 250 kg.  They were the dominant large herbivores in the New Zealand forests.

Modern day sightings

, there are many who believe the Moa is possibly alive.

It is almost certain the Moa is extinct, there has been occasional speculation that some may still exist in deepest south Westland, a rugged wilderness in the South Island of New Zealand. Despite many expeditions no hard evidence or actual specimens have ever been found.

It has long neck ending in a small head and covered in reddish­ feathers. The thick legs were covered to the knee

Paddy Freaney's picture of what he claimed was a "moa". In January 1993, on the West Coast, Paddy Freaney, Sam Waby and Rochelle Rafferty claimed to have seen a large moa-like bird. Analysis of the blurry photograph they claimed was of a moa suggested that the subject could be either a large bird or a red deer. The incident is considered a hoax, especially as Freaney is a hotelier, and may have concocted the story to attract tourists.

Moa experts say the likelihood of any moa remaining alive and unnoticed is extremely unlikely, since they would be giant birds in a region often visited by hunters and hikers. Freaney cites the rediscovery of the Takahē as evidence that living birds could still exist undiscovered. However, while the hen-sized Takahē could successfully avoid humans, a large moa would have considerably more difficulty in doing so. The Takahē was rediscovered after its tracks were identified, but no reliable evidence of moa tracks has been reported.

Copyright 2006 Team Xbow
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