Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Moa: the life and death of New Zealand’s legendary bird
The life and death of the world’s tallest species of bird is the focus of a new book published by Craig Potton Publishing this month.'
The moa are arguably the most unusual and unique family of birds that have ever lived but they became extinct reasonably quickly after the arrival of the Maori in New Zealand, and were a distant memory by the time European explorers arrived in the country. So the identification of their bones in the 1840s caused a worldwide sensation. ‘The discovery was described at the time as “the zoological find of the century,” and the surprising discoveries have persisted until the present day,’ says Quinn Berentson, author of Moa: The life and death of New Zealand’s legendary bird
‘The moa has fascinated and bamboozled the finest minds in natural history for 170 years and so, rather than write an encyclopaedia, I’ve tried to tell the story of its rediscovery – with all the twists and turns, devious personalities and unlikely events – and summarize the latest scientific discoveries that have occurred in just the last few years and have totally changed our perception of the giant birds.
Basically almost everything we thought we knew about the moa has been turned on its head over the last 10 years because of advanced DNA analysis. It turns out for most of the last 170 years we had a totally mistaken view of what the birds looked like, how they lived and even where they lived. Now New Zealand scientists have finally solved many of the mysteries that baffled the best minds in natural science for the last century.’
‘It’s a serious book about a popular subject and will fill a real gap in our natural history literature,’ says publisher Robbie Burton. ‘It’s a fascinating story and an important book that richly recounts and illustrates the life and death of the giant bird.’
About the author
Quinn Berentson is a writer, documentary film maker and photographer. After graduating with a first-class Honours degree in Zoology from Otago University he began writing and directing children’s educational television. He then moved into international documentary as a freelance director for Natural History New Zealand producing documentaries for Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet, Biography Channel USA and History Channel Asia on subjects as diverse as blue whales, serial killers and human cannonballs. He continues to do this alongside other writing projects. He is based in Dunedin and Moa is his first book.
Craig Potton Publishing
Hardback - $49.99