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 New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>