The extinct Adzebills of prehistoric New Zealand were big birds, weighing in at up to 19 kg. So researchers, including Canterbury Museum curator Dr Paul Scofield, were surprised when genetic data showed its closes living relative was the tiny rail-like Madagascan Flufftail – a bird that weighs less than 50 grams. The new study suggests the common ancestor of the Adzebill and the Flufftail flew to New Zealand from Africa between 40 and 22 million years ago – possibly via a still-forested Antarctica. Once here, the species grew rapidly, increasing more than 50-fold in mass. They became almost totally wingless and gained a huge reinforced beak, which they might have used for digging or to attack prey. Like many of NZ's giant birds, Adzebills became extinct shortly after the arrival of humans in New Zealand in the 13th century.
Link to news releaase: https://www.canterburymuseum.com/about- ... Z1unDlEsd0
Link to study: https://www.mdpi.com/1424-2818/11/2/24
Discussion about the evolution, relationships, and naming of New Zealand birds
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- Michael Szabo
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