Having split early from Gondwana, Zealandia (now modern New Zealand) escaped discovery until the late 13th century, and therefore remains an important glimpse into a human-free world. Without humans or other land mammals, diverse and peculiar birds evolved in isolation, including several flightless moa species, the giant pouakai eagle (Harpagornis moorei), the kiwi (Apteryx mantelli), and the kakapo parrot (Strigops habroptila). This unique community has fascinated paleoecologists, who have spent almost two centuries devising new ways to glean information from ancient bird remains. In PNAS, Boast et al. (1) apply one recent technological advance, ancient DNA (aDNA) metabarcoding, to confirm previous discoveries and report new details about moa and kakapo diets, parasites, and niches. Their efforts confirm Zealandia was a lot different before humans arrived.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Unique parasite aDNA in moa coprolites from New Zealand suggests mass parasite extinctions followed human-induced megafauna extinctions|
|Publisher||National Academy of Sciences of United States of America|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Ecological Research Center|