Saturday, July 2, 2011


Chelychelynechen quassus
Moa-nalo refers to four species found within three different genera. All of whom were once found on the Hawaiian, all are now extinct, and all were gigantic ducks. Moa-nalo (that is both the singular and plural form) could stand as tall as 3 ft (.9m)!

At some point millions of years ago, the ancestors of these unusual birds arrived on the Hawaiian Islands. There, like many other island bird species that are lacking predators, they lost their ability to fly and instead became stocky ground foragers. Interestingly, the Moa-nalo were strict vegetarians, unlike many other ducks. (We know this thanks to studying beak shapes and fossilized dung.)

The Moa-nalo were left in peace, wandering around and doing their thing until about 1,200 years ago, when humans first arrived on the island. In a story that parallels that of the fated Dodo of Mauritius, these large flightless Hawaiian birds were unaccustomed to people and because easy prey. They all died out around 1,000 years ago, and remained unknown to science until the 1980s. Moa-nalo actually means "lost fowl" in Hawaiian.

Status :  Extinct for around 1,000 years
Location : Hawaiian Islands
Size : Weight up to 17lbs (7.5kg), Height up to 3ft (.9m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genera : Chelychelynechen, Thambetochen, Ptaiochen

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