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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Sep 15;89(18):8741-4.

Independent origins of New Zealand moas and kiwis.

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Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


Two groups of flightless ratite birds existed in New Zealand during the Pleistocene: the kiwis and the moas. The latter are now extinct but formerly included 11 species. We have enzymatically amplified and sequenced approximately 400 base pairs of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene from bones and soft tissue remains of four species of moas as well as eight other species of ratite birds and a tinamou. Contrary to expectation, the phylogenetic analysis shows that the kiwis are more closely related to Australian and African ratities than to the moas. Thus, New Zealand probably was colonized twice by ancestors of ratite birds.

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