NZ's very own giant man-eating bird

Those of us with a fascination for cryptozoology will be familiar with Americas 'Thunderbird' (giant man-eating) bird legend. Well, wouldn't you know... I Came across an extremely interesting article in this week's NZ Herald about New Zealand's very own man-eating bird with a 3-meter wingspan and talons as big as tiger's claws that terrorised the early Maori.

Now if that's not worthy of a blog post, I don't know what is.

The Maori Legend of the giant man-eating bird, Te Hokioi, is a legend no more. It is now believed by scientists to be the Haast's Eagle that was discovered in swamp deposits by Sir Julius von Haast in the 1870s.

Haast's eagle has until now, always been thought to be a scavenger because its bill was similar to a vulture's, but a re-examination of skeletons using today's technology shows it could easily deliver a killing blow as it dived at speeds of up to 80kph.

"They were certainly capable of swooping down and taking a child... and had the ability to not only strike with their talons but to close the talons and put them through quite solid objects such as a pelvis. It was designed as a killing machine." says Paul Scofield, the curator of vertebrate zoology at the Canterbury Museum.

The eagle's main prey would have been Moa, flightless birds which grew to as much as 250kg and 2.5 metres tall. Tragically, it is believed that once the Moa were exterminated by humans, the giant man-eater simply died out also.
Read the original article here.


PaisleyJade said...

Glad these aren't around anymore... unless it decided to grab the whippet that is. ;)

lesmondj said...

Heh heh. It would have to be pretty fast to catch a Whippet! Make good TV though with David Attinborough overdubbed voice. 'Now here we have the...'

Bird of Paradise said...

Imagine if they could make a movie about this