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Books about Moas

The books are listed in order of publication date with the most recent at the top.

For wider ranging books about extinct birds see the;

Extinct Birds page


Pyramid Valley and Beyond: Discovering the Prehistoric Birdlife of North Canterbury, New Zealand

Richard N Holdaway

Turnagra Press


"Describes the original avifauna of North Canterbury as revealed by the fossil evidence in the Pyramid Valley site and other sites in the area, gives the history of the Pyramid Valley site and its environment, and relates the past environment and avifauna to the present landscape."

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Natural History Museum: Alive: The Stories Behind The Museum's Great Extinct Creatures

Amabel Adcock

Foreword: David Attenborough

Natural History Museum


Includes a section about Moas.

"This beautifully illustrated book explores the incredible array of extinct creatures chosen by David Attenborough in his acclaimed film Natural History Museum Alive 3D. Amongst others it includes dinosaurs, ice age beasts, giant birds and colossal apes. Each chapter investigates the stories and myths surrounding the discovery of these priceless specimens and reveals the surprising true stories behind their journey to the Museum s display cabinets. Challenging the somewhat fanciful Victorian interpretations of these extinct animals with expert analysis by scientists from the Natural History Museum and further afield, Amabel Adcock pieces together the clues, revealing the creatures in a new light and gaining a fresh understanding of what they looked like and how they lived."

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Moa: The Life and Death of New Zealand's Legendary Bird

Quinn Berentson

Craig Potton


"The moa were the most unusual and unique family of birds that ever lived, a clan of feathered monsters that developed in isolation for many, many millions of years. They became extinct reasonably quickly after the arrival of the Maori, and were a distant memory by the time European explorers arrived. So the discovery and identification of their bones in the 1840s was a worldwide sensation, claimed by many to be the zoological find of the century. This book begins by recounting the story of discovery, which was characterised by an unbelievable amount of controversy and intrigue. Since then there has been an unbroken chain of new discoveries, culminating with intriguing revelations in recent years about the moa's biology, that have come to light through DNA testing and radio-dating. This is a fascinating and important book that richly recounts the life and death of our strangest bird. Packed with a fantastic range of illustrations, Moa fills an important gap in our natural history literature, a popular but serious book on this national icon."

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Moa: the Dramatic Story Behind the Discovery of a Giant Bird

Richard Wolfe

Penguin Books


"In 1839, on the basis of a single mysterious fragment of bone from the other side of the world, the great English anatomist Richard Owen came to the conclusion that it was from a gigantic flightless bird that had once inhabited New Zealand. Owen was involved in the naming of dinosaurs, but this time many of his scientific colleagues thought he had gone too afar. Despite this being the time of Darwin, many thought Owen's claims preposterous. In fact the discovery of the moa is full of great scientific intrigue and personality clashes in both New Zealand and Britain."

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Extinct Birds Of New Zealand

Alan Tennyson and P. Martinson

Te Papa Press


"In New Zealand's lush rainforests, isolated from the outside world for 80 million years, many extraordinary birds evolved. They included the giant moa, the beautiful huia, and the largest eagle the earth has ever seen. Within a few hundred years, human settlement extinguished 58 unique and beautiful species. For the first time ever, this book brings these lost birds to life again. In rich colour, celebrated painter Paul Martinson depicts each bird in its original habitat. Te Papa palaeontologist Alan Tennyson provides detailed information on the birds as well as a compelling overview of their tragic extinction."

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Prodigious Birds: Moas and Moa Hunting in New Zealand

Atholl Anderson

Cambridge University Press

2003 (orig publ 1990)

"Prodigious Birds brings together the entire field of moa-related research, some 150 years of enquiry. The moa was a large flightless bird, hunted into extinction by the Maori tribes of New Zealand before the arrival of Europeans. Atholl Anderson brings an historical perspective to the development of moa research and its formative debates, analytical methods and results, reviewing evidence from palaeontology, biology, archaeology, ethnography and history."

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Birds of Aotearoa: A Natural and Cultural History

Margaret Orbell

Manaaki Whenua / Landcare Research / Reed


"Describes the early relationship in New Zealand between Maori and the extraordinary birds they found there. The book provides scientific information, recounts traditions explaining the birds' origins and natures, quotes from songs that they appear in, and shows us some of the beautiful items used by Maori inspired by the birds."

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The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand

Trevor Worthy, Richard Holdaway, and Rod Morris

Indiana University Press


"This book investigates one of the richest and most unusual faunas in the world, one that thrived in isolation for 80 million years, but that over the past 2000 years has been reduced to a shadow of its former glory. It was a fauna dominated by birds. In one of the most dramatic extinctions of modern times, half of these species were removed from the planet forever. Among these lost animals was the giant, flightless bird, the moa, an evolutionary novelty that was one of the largest birds ever known. In this definitive volume, Trevor H. Worthy and Richard N. Holdaway summarise all that is presently known about these incredible birds. The authors present the various species of moa, describe their skeletons, and reconstruct their life and ecology. Then they discuss the only threat to the survival of an adult moa, the world's largest eagle. Paying particular attention to the more interesting and unique forms known only or largely from the fossil record, Worthy and Holdaway describe the primary herbivores, the top predator, and other species. These are placed in the total fauna, where ducks, gruids, and even bats all followed an evolutionary path to flightlessness. Wonderful as these species were, most were ill-prepared to face new, mammalian predators - first rats brought by human visitors, then other mammals, and finally humans themselves. Copiously illustrated and carefully documented from the most current scientific research, The Lost World of the Moa reconstructs a fascinating evolutionary experiment that survived all manner of climatic and geological change, only to succumb to contact with the outside world."

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New Zealand's Extinct Birds

Brian Gill and Paul Martinson

Random Century


"The largest penguin ever known once roamed the shores of New Zealand, and there were many other strange bird species which soared the skies or stalked the land, false-toothed pelicans, eleven moa species including the tallest bird known, giant flightless geese and coots, the largest eagle known, adzebills, owlet-night jars and the world's only flightless perching bird. These weird and wonderful birds are now extinct. Some disappeared in the geologically distant past, but most were eliminated during the last 1000 years, unable to withstand the impact of humans on these lands."

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Trilobites, Dinosaurs and Moa Bones: Story of New Zealand Fossils

Bruce Hayward

Bush Press


A general introduction to New Zealand fossils and where to find them."

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The Moa, When Did it Become Extinct?

J. Herries Beattie

Otago Daily Times / Cadsonbury Publications

1953 (reprint 1997)

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The Moas Of New Zealand And Australia

W.R.B. Oliver

Dominion Museum, Wellington


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The Mystery Of The Moa

T. Lindsay Buick

Thomas Avery & Sons


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Last updated September 2013