Extinct birds

What’s the matter media, can’t you say Maori?

Look at these headlines and articles from yesterday:

Fairfax headline

Fairfax headline

NZ Herald headline

NZ Herald headline

Both articles then explain the situation. First up the NZ Herald:

Even small human populations can wipe out big animal species, according to local researchers who suggest moa extinction was rapid.

Researchers from the University of Canterbury and University of Otago contributed to the new findings, which appeared in the journal Nature Communications.

Professor Richard Holdaway from Canterbury and Otago’s Chris Jacomb said early Polynesians who caused moa extinction in little more than a century had amongst the lowest human population densities on record.

They found that during the peak period of moa hunting, there were fewer than 1500 Polynesian settlers in New Zealand, or about 1 person per 100 square km. New Zealand’s population density today is 17 per square km.

The researchers started with the latest estimate for a founding population of about 400 people, including 170-230 women. They then applied population growth rates in the range achieved by past and present populations and modelled the human population size through the moa hunter period and beyond.

Prof Holdaway and Mr Jacomb said when moa and seals were still available, the better diet likely fuelled higher population growth.

But the moa’s total extinction most probably occurred within a decade either side of 1425. This was barely a century after East Polynesians settled the earliest well-dated site, at Wairau Bar near Blenheim.

Read more »

Things must be getting desperate in Hutt South, Mallard is still musing about Moas

You have to give Trevor Mallard some credit…when he latches onto a cunning stunt he really gives it his all.

Last election he wasted 6 months training his heart out to beat a fat lazy blogger in race around the streets of East Auckland, in a sport that consumes his every waking moment in between stints at his part time job in parliament as an MP.

He lacked the courage to have a crack at a sport of my choosing…boxing or Sporting Clays…he took the easy win and then shut up.

This time his brilliant campaign strategy is to repeatedly and vociferously advocate for the resurrection of a long dead bird…and I’m not talking about his political career here…rather he wants to investigate in saving and extinct bird, the moa.

Trevor Mallard just can’t let go of his fascination with resurrecting the moa.

Yesterday Inglewood, a town long associated with the extinct flightless bird, came to the attention of the Labour MP.

He was in Taranaki yesterday to talk about sport and recreation, but was fascinated to learn Inglewood was briefly known as Moatown in the mid-1870s. ? Read more »

Claire Trevett on Mallard’s moa

Claire Trevett has a lash at Trevor Mallard’s?moa?malarkey:

Taika Waititi recently said of his movie?What We Do in the Shadows?that everybody needs a bit of silly in their lives. Labour’s Trevor Mallard immediately took his advice.

He gave a speech to the Wainiuomata Business Development breakfast. It began well. A lifelong Wainuiomartian, Mr Mallard spoke of his links to the valley, over the hill from the Hutt Valley. He made a good joke about being in the under 7s cricket team, which was all out for six runs against arch rivals Riverside. “We took our name too literally.”

He spoke of the joys of the valley’s microclimate, its community spirit, its need to attract more people and the low property prices, getting in a jab at the value to loan requirements making it harder for young families in the area to buy first homes “as a side effect of targeting Auckland house prices”.

So far, so on message. Then he revealed he’d been spending quite a bit of time on Google and he had discovered the solution to Wainuiomata’s problem.

He had discovered the science of de-extinction. He wanted the moa back in the bush around Wainuiomata.

Mallard’s enthusiasm was such that he took a journey around the Press Gallery to deliver the speech in person, along with photos of himself cuddling a kiwi, and illustrations of the Spanish bucardo ibex and the gastric-brooding frog in Australia.

Attempts had already been made to bring these two species back from the dead, although one did die again rather swiftly and the other never resulted in viable foetuses.

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Armstrong on Mallard’s moa delusion

John Armstrong muses about the rationale behind Trevor Mallard’s moa media stunt.

Trevor Mallard’s mind-boggling suggestion to harness science to bring the moa back to life will likely end up being much-a-dodo about nothing.

And won’t David Cunliffe be relieved. Trying to breathe life of its own into his faltering leadership, Cunliffe had recently promised that Labour henceforth would be focusing on “the things that matter”.

Mallard may have misunderstood his leader, but it is unlikely that the “matter” Cunliffe was referring to was recovered DNA from moa egg shells.

Along with his front-bench colleagues, Cunliffe had to grin through gritted teeth as they were lampooned mercilessly by Government MPs for much of Parliament’s afternoon hour-long question-time and beyond.

Never one to look a gift moa in the mouth, National’s Steven Joyce kicked off the mass ribbing by manipulating his forearm and hand to resemble the neck and head of a moa and then waved the ensemble at arriving Labour MPs — a pantomime act so polished that Joyce must have devoted all but a few moments of his lunchtime to perfecting it.

The subsequent deluge of puns and wisecracks became progressively more lame from thereon — with one exception. When Winston Peters got to his feet, National backbencher Scott Simpson interjected: “A live moa!”.

Trevor Mallard must have done this on purpose. To cause a day of distraction for Labour, unfortunately it also distracted from anything positive that DAvid Cunliffe had to say about anything and ended up sidetracking the leader.? Read more »

Never underestimate the power of the poo-finger

poo-finger

Sources in Wellington tell me David Cunliffe is less than impressed with Trevor Mallard, uttering the words loudly in the hearing of others sharing the ambience at Copperfield’s “Someone needs to muzzle Mallard”.

He may well be right but that someone is Cunliffe himself.

Trevor Mallard has once again derailed anything Labour was attempting to put up today with the media distracted on trivialities, showing once again that Labour isn’t focussed on the things that matter to voters.

You almost have to say it is deliberate. Trevor Mallard is deliberately poo-fingering David Cunliffe.

Read more »

Can’t blame this on the whitey, but they’ll try

canterbury-museum-moa-hunter-display

New evidence suggests, conclusively, that Maori slaughtered the moa to extinction, in stark contrast to the modern myth that they were the original conservationists.

For millions of years, nine species of large, flightless birds known as moas (Dinornithiformes) thrived in New Zealand. Then, about 600 years ago, they abruptly went extinct. Their die-off coincided with the arrival of the first humans on the islands in the late 13th century, and scientists have long wondered what role hunting by?Homo sapiens?played in the moas? decline. Did we alone drive the giant birds over the brink, or were they already on their way out thanks to disease and volcanic eruptions? Now, a new genetic study of moa fossils points to humankind as the sole perpetrator of the birds? extinction. The study adds to an ongoing debate about whether past peoples lived and hunted animals in a sustainable manner or were largely to blame for the extermination of numerous species.

?The paper presents a very convincing case of extinction due to humans,? says Carles Lalueza-Fox, an evolutionary biologist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, Spain, who was not involved in the research. ?It?s not because of a long, natural decline.?

When they say humankind they are avoiding upsetting the real culprits, the tangata whenua.

Archaeologists know that the Polynesians who first settled New Zealand ate moas of all ages, as well as the birds? eggs. With moa species ranging in size from 12 to 250 kilograms, the birds?which had never seen a terrestrial mammal before people arrived?offered sizable meals. ?You see heaps and heaps of the birds? bones in archaeological sites,? Allentoft says. ?If you hunt animals at all their life stages, they will never have a chance.?? Read more »

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