DNA from extinct Moa bird rewrites New Zealand’s geological history

November 22, 2009 at 8:32 am | Posted in News and Politics | Leave a comment

Adelaide, November 22 : In a new study, scientists have determined that DNA recovered from fossilised bones of the moa, a giant extinct bird, has revealed a new geological history of New Zealand.

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, according to the researchers.

Project leader Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) said that 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. Read more of this historical news update from NZ.

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