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3,300-Year-Old Claw Of A Bird That Went Extinct 700 Years Ago Discovered

According to geologists, the Earth is supposed to have existed around four and half a billion years ago. With such a long chronology, our beloved planet contains within itself much more interesting mysteries than knowledge from books and schools. Thus, when an image of a strange gigantic bird claw emerged on social media, it definitely drew great attraction.

Truth is, the giant claw wasn’t discovered recently, but was unearthed in 1987 by the New Zealand Speleological Society’s members, during their trip through the cave systems of Mount Owen, New Zealand.

When discovered, the scientists thought the claw belonged to an unknown dinosaur, and much to their surprise, it still had muscles and skin tissues attached to it. Later, they found that the mysterious talon was from an extinct flightless bird species called moa.

The bird was native to New Zealand, and had become extinct nearly between 700 and 800 years ago. Archaeologists assumed that the mummified claw discovered must have been over 3,300 years old upon its finding.

Specifically, the first of the moa species possibly lived 80 million years ago on the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, consisting of 3 families, 6 genera and 9 species varying in size, from the size of a turkey to larger than an ostrich, with the 2 out of 9 species was 12 ft tall and weighed 510 lbs.

The remnants of the moas depicted that they were primarily grazers and browsers that consumed fruits, grass, leaves and seeds. Their closest relatives were the flighted South American tinamous, a sister group to ratites. However, unlike all other ratites, the nine species of moa were the only flightless birds without vestigial wings.

The now-extinct birds were the largest terrestrial animals and herbivores that dominated the forests of New Zealand. Before the Polynesians, particularly the Maori, set their foot on the region, their only predator was the Haast’s eagle, which became extinct together with the moas shortly afterwards.

Their extinction was attributed to being hunted and habitat reduction. Trevor Worthy, a paleozoologist known for his extensive research on moa, greatly accepted this theory. But whatever brought about these species’ extinction, may their remains serve as a reminder for us to protect other remaining endangered species.