Moa skeleton on display at DOC visitor centre

16 Nov 2021

Moa skeleton on display at DOC visitor centre A complete moa skeleton (pictured) is now on display at DOC’s Kauaeranga Visitor Centre. On long-term loan from conservationist Doug Ashby - well-known as the “Lizard Man” because of his voluntary work educating people about New Zealand’s reptiles - the skeleton has been compiled from the bones of several specimens uncovered in Southland. The bones were discovered when land near Riverton was drained for pasture. 
The skeleton is of a stout-legged moa (Eurypateryx curtus) and is estimated to be 1,000 years old. Stoutlegged moa were a medium-sized species, standing about 1.5m tall and were found on the Coromandel
Peninsula also. The stout-legged moa lived in shrubland, their beak shape and structure suggesting they preferred a diet of soft plant material and fruit. Kauaeranga Visitor Centre supervisor, Wendy Hillerich, says the skeleton is an exciting and interesting addition to the visitor centre. “We’ve been working with Doug on this display for about 18 months,” she says. “Doug is a familiar face at the visitor centre, so we’re delighted to be able to give this specimen a semi-permanent home.”
The moa skeleton is encased in a glass cabinet, alongside a related display showing the various sizes of eggs from the different moa species. Display panels give a range of information about the species of moa in New Zealand.
“One interesting feature of the skeleton is its posture, with the moa’s head at about the same level as its body,” Wendy says. “Many depictions of moa show the birds with their heads held quite high, but the advice we have is they tended to keep their heads down, so that’s how this specimen has been presented.
Moa were long birds, not tall birds.”