Navigation Links
Scientists 'rebuild' giant moa using ancient DNA
Date:7/2/2009

Scientists have performed the first DNA-based reconstruction of the giant extinct moa bird, using prehistoric feathers recovered from caves and rock shelters in New Zealand.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide and Landcare Research in New Zealand have identified four different moa species after retrieving ancient DNA from moa feathers believed to be at least 2500 years old.

The giant birds measuring up to 2.5 metres and weighing 250 kilograms were the dominant animals in New Zealand's pre-human environment but were quickly exterminated after the arrival of the Maori around 1280AD.

PhD student Nicolas Rawlence from the University's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA says until now, the scientific community has not known what the 10 different species of moa looked like. "By using ancient DNA we have been able to connect feathers to four different moa species," he says.

The researchers compared the feathers to others found in the sediments from red-crowned parakeets that are still living today, determining they had not faded or changed in colour. They then reconstructed the appearance of the stout-legged moa, heavy-footed moa, upland moa and the South Island giant moa.

Their findings were published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B.

"The surprising thing is that while many of the species had a similar, relatively plain brown plumage for camouflage, some had white-tipped feathers to create a speckled appearance," Mr Rawlence says.

A co-author of the study, Dr Jamie Wood from Landcare Research, says it is likely that the drab colouring was driven by selection to avoid predation by the extinct Haast's eagle, the largest and most powerful eagle in the world.

The research team also demonstrated that it is possible to retrieve DNA from all parts of the ancient feathers, not just the tip of the quill, as previously thought.

"This important finding opens the way to study DNA from museum bird skins while causing almost no damage to these valuable specimens, just by clipping a small part of a single feather," says Dr Kyle Armstrong from the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD).

ACAD Director Professor Alan Cooper says this finding suggests it may be possible to reconstruct the appearance of other extinct birds using feathers from fossil deposits.

"There are so many enigmatic extinct species that it would be great to see 'clothed'," Professor Cooper says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Nicolas Rawlence
nicolas.rawlence@adelaide.edu.au
61-406-973-557
University of Adelaide
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Double success for Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia scientists working on chromosome segregation
2. International team of students and scientists on month-long field course in Siberian Arctic
3. Scientists find a biological fountain of youth in new world bat caves
4. Harvard scientists solve mystery about why HIV patients are more susceptible to TB infection
5. Scripps Research scientists observe human neurodegenerative disorder in fruit flies
6. CSHL scientists harness logic of Sudoku math puzzle to vastly enhance genome-sequencing capability
7. International collaboration by scientists culminates in novel ion channels database
8. Childrens Hospital Oakland scientists first to discover new source for harvesting stem cells
9. Leading scientists and scholars urge action on climate issues
10. Scientists capture the first image of memories being made
11. Scientists sequence genome of the N2-fixing, soil-living bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 29, 2017  higi, the health IT company that ... North America , today announced a Series B ... of EveryMove. The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s ... to transform population health activities through the collection and ... higi collects and secures data today on behalf ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Biometric ... of around 15.1% over the next decade to reach approximately $1,580 ... market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/21/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 20, 2017 , ... ... Journal of Biomedical Optics (JBO) starting 1 January 2018. The journal is published ... Biomedical Optics publishes papers on the use of modern optical technology for improved ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... ... August 21, 2017 , ... The team at ... webinar, in which attendees will learn about the assembly and topological architecture of ... an overview of the development and validation of new high-quality recombinant monoclonal antibodies, ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... August 17, 2017 , ... ... and personalized medicine, today announced the launch of a new breast cancer monitoring ... study’s goal is to evaluate the potential for early detection of recurrent breast ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... Today, 3Bar ... has secured $2M in funding from an impressive group of investors, including Rev1 ... Thrive Fund. With this investment, 3Bar is broadening availability of its groundbreaking offering ...
Breaking Biology Technology: