fbpx

‘What if kiwi are just tiny moa?’ asks biologist

Dr. Anthony Poole doesn’t see why this kiwi (left) isn’t just “a tiny, baby version” of this moa (right)

Dr. Anthony Poole doesn’t see why this kiwi (left) isn’t just “a tiny, baby version” of this moa (right)

A Christchurch biologist sent shockwaves throughout the scientific community Tuesday when he posed a groundbreaking question at a conference of lecturers at the University of Canterbury.

The conference was a routine event held by lecturers to facilitate the sharing of research between colleagues, but it took a surprising turn when Dr. Anthony Poole, an expert on molecular evolution, interrupted a presentation by Professor Hazel Chapman on the extinction of the giant flightless bird, the moa.

“What if the moa isn’t extinct?” asked Poole. “What if kiwi are just tiny moa?”

A loud gasp was heard across the room, followed by silence.

“We didn’t know what to say” said Chapman. “No one could really argue why that wouldn’t be the case.”

The moa, a species native to New Zealand, has long been thought to have gone extinct around 1400 AD, primarily due to overhunting by Maori. But Poole’s new theory may call that into question, suggesting instead that the moa “just shrunk” and “got tiny” to “avoid being seen.”

The theory has garnered attention from scientists all around the world, who are anxious to delve deeper into it. Poole has even caught the ear of renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who was reportedly intrigued by the idea.

“It’s definitely possible” said Dawkins “I mean, when you think about it, they certainly look similar, don’t they? They’re both brown.”

The publicity is also giving new life to a paper Poole published last year on how sea lions evolved from lions that fell into the sea.