Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Extinct Moa Rewrites New Zealand's History

19.11.2009
DNA recovered from fossilised bones of the moa, a giant extinct bird, has revealed a new geological history of New Zealand, reports a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team of scientists led by the University of Adelaide has reconstructed a history of marine barriers, mountain building and glacial cycles in New Zealand over millions of years, using the first complete genetic history of the moa.

After almost being totally submerged around 25 million years ago, the current South and North Islands were separated by a large sea until around 1.5 million years ago, researchers say.

Project leader Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) says New Zealand is recognised as one of the world’s “great evolutionary laboratories” due to the absence of land mammals and the radiation of giant flightless birds such as the moa. “Yet this research is rewriting the geological history of New Zealand and shows how little we really know about it,” Professor Cooper says.

The team of Australian and New Zealand researchers sequenced DNA from hundreds of birds collected from caves and swamps, including all nine species of moa. The birds, which weighed up to 250kg, were the dominant animals in New Zealand’s pre-human environment but were quickly exterminated after the arrival of the Maori around 1280AD.

“We found that the remarkable evolutionary dispersion of the nine moa species took place in only seven million years and seems to have occurred as the Southern Alps rapidly rose up and created lots of new habitats,” Professor Cooper says. The evidence also suggests that many of New Zealand’s iconic species - including the kiwi, tuatara and kauri – evolved solely on the South Island.

“This raises the question of what was happening on the North Island during this time?” Professor Cooper says.

Lead author Dr Mike Bunce from Murdoch University extracted traces of DNA from moa bones, mummies and coprolites, which the researchers were able to use to create the first detailed evolutionary time frame for moa.

Professor Peter Kamp from Waikato University led the geological mapping that revealed the extent of the seaway separating the two islands, as well as the uplift history of the Southern Alps.

“When the seaway was first bridged by land around 1.5 million years ago, it is likely that a major interchange of species took place as also occurred between North and South America across the Panama isthmus around three million years ago,” Professor Kamp says.

Team member Dr Trevor Worthy from the University of NSW said the study was “an excellent example of how museum specimens can contribute to cutting-edge science”.

Dr Mike Bunce | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.adelaide.edu

Further reports about: Australian DNA Kiwi MOA Southern Alps giant flightless birds glacial cycles kauri sequenced DNA tuatara

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What happens in the cell nucleus after fertilization
06.12.2016 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>