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Maori Legend of Man-Eating Birds is True 338

Posted by samzenpus
from the beautiful-plumage dept.
jerryatrix writes "Legends of the New Zealand Maori tell of giant man-eating birds. New scientific evidence proves that these birds did exist and were around the same time as humans in New Zealand. From the article, 'Scientists now think the stories handed down by word of mouth and depicted in rock drawings refer to Haast's eagle, a raptor that became extinct just 500 years ago.'"

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Maori Legend of Man-Eating Birds is True

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  • so... (Score:5, Funny)

    by brainstem (519778) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:02AM (#29422339)
    So it wasn't the dingo, after all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rophuine (946411)
      Well, it was DIRECTLY the dingo, but then the eagle got the dingo. It's called the food chain, and we're not always at the top!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        we're not always at the top

        Sometimes it's nice not to be on top.

        You know, change it up a little.
        Keeps things fresh.
        Puts a little spice in things.

        Who am I kidding... *sigh*

    • Re:so... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:06AM (#29422367) Homepage Journal

      So it wasn't the dingo, after all.

      No dingos in NZ.

      • Re:so... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:09AM (#29422383)

        Of course not! Not any more -- did you see the size of those Dingo eating birds?

        • Re:so... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:17AM (#29422425)

          Actually there is no evidence that there was ever any land animals whatsoever in NZ except for lizards, insects and spiders. Unless you count flightless birds.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Actually there is no evidence that there was ever any land animals whatsoever in NZ except for lizards, insects and spiders. Unless you count flightless birds.

            So, aside from the sheep-eating lizards, poisonous insects, deadly spiders, and territorial (and vicious) birds... you'd be perfectly safe.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Actually there is no evidence that there was ever any land animals whatsoever in NZ except for lizards, insects and spiders. Unless you count flightless birds.

              So, aside from the sheep-eating lizards, poisonous insects, deadly spiders, and territorial (and vicious) birds... you'd be perfectly safe.

              Last I checked we only had man eating birds, and the odd man eating Maori.

              • Yup.. (Score:5, Funny)

                by refactored (260886) <cyent.xnet@co@nz> on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:21AM (#29422739) Homepage Journal
                AC said.. Last I checked we only had man eating birds, and the odd man eating Maori.

                Yup,...it'd be a pretty Odd man that eats a Maori. Pretty tough buggers those. :-) A bit of a step up from Pit Bull I tell you!

                • Re:Yup.. (Score:5, Funny)

                  by rve (4436) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:47AM (#29423103)

                  Yup,...it'd be a pretty Odd man that eats a Maori. Pretty tough buggers those.

                  Tough? You're probably cooking them too fast. Have you tried preparing one sous-vide ?

                  • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                    by hey! (33014)

                    Tough? You're probably cooking them too fast. Have you tried preparing one sous-vide ?

                    Close. Slow cooked in a wet sand pit filled with hot rocks and covered with palm leaves is the regional cooking method. Kind of like a clam bake, without the clams.

            • by siloko (1133863) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:29AM (#29423027)

              So, aside from the sheep-eating lizards . . .

              . . . well I'm hoping the sheep eating lizards found more than just evidence of 'land animals' else they would soon become 'fuck, where's the sheep?' lizards. Admittedly they sound dangerous too . . .

            • Re:so... (Score:4, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @03:06AM (#29423183)

              So, aside from the sheep-eating lizards, poisonous insects, deadly spiders, and territorial (and vicious) birds... you'd be perfectly safe.

              Deadly spiders? New Zealand has no snakes and only one species of poisonous spider (the Katipo [wikipedia.org]) that's rare, endangered, and found only on coastlands (eg. not inland). The next worse thing (probably a whitetail spider [wikipedia.org]) merely makes you nauseous, and is not deadly.

              Because of the tectonic plate movement New Zealand drifted off before animals and before evolution favoured overtly vicious creatures, let alone poisonous creatures.

              New Zealand was a land full of birds before humans arrived in about 1000 AD, bringing rats and other animals.

              • Re:so... (Score:5, Funny)

                by SlashWombat (1227578) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:20AM (#29423471)

                Deadly spiders? New Zealand has no snakes and only one species of poisonous spider

                That's because the Maori's ate them all. Seriously, the bloody Maori's are the only native race to ever get a treaty from the vicious pommy bastard tribe!

                • by digitig (1056110)

                  Deadly spiders? New Zealand has no snakes and only one species of poisonous spider

                  That's because the Maori's ate them all. Seriously, the bloody Maori's are the only native race to ever get a treaty from the vicious pommy bastard tribe!

                  Not wise to eat poisonous spiders. Venomous ones, now that could be another matter...

                • by mike2R (721965)

                  That's because the Maori's ate them all. Seriously, the bloody Maori's are the only native race to ever get a treaty from the vicious pommy bastard tribe!

                  That's an interesting assertion. How are you defining native? And treaty? (I'm assuming that 'vicious pommy bastard tribe' refers to us inhabitants of the sceptred isle) Surely Britain must have had a number of treaties with Indian principalities (although I suppose that would have been the East India Company rather than the British state). I thought ho

          • Re:so... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:55AM (#29422615)

            You totally forgot New Zealand's only native land mammal, the bat. There's an amazing video of the native bat running, because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

            But, the Haast Eagle was unconfirmed before this? I've been brought up and it's always been a fact to me.

            • Re:so... (Score:4, Informative)

              by flibbajobber (949499) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:15AM (#29422691)
              The actual news here is that they co-existed with the Maori - it was previously thought they had died out before the Maori arrived. The existence of the Haast's Eagle was well known and there exist Moa bones with massive gouges from being attacked by these Eagles.
              • Re:so... (Score:5, Funny)

                by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:02AM (#29423399) Journal

                "The actual news here is that they co-existed with the Maori"

                If by co-exist you mean EAT THEM, then yes, there was a lot of co-existence.

            • Video link (Score:5, Informative)

              by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:42AM (#29422821)

              There's an amazing video of the native bat running, because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

              Video [youtube.com]
              Shame on you for talking up something so cool and not providing a link.

            • Re:so... (Score:5, Informative)

              by w0mprat (1317953) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:13AM (#29422959)

              You totally forgot New Zealand's only native land mammal, the bat. There's an amazing video of the native bat running, because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

              The native bat is not flightless. It does a funny scamper thing along the ground but this does not make it flightless.

              But, the Haast Eagle was unconfirmed before this? I've been brought up and it's always been a fact to me.

              Haasts Eagle bones were identified in 1870 by Julius Von Haast. This thing preyed on the Moa, a 12-foot tall 500lb flightless bird. There is no question that a human would have been a much easier much more defenseless snack than a Moa. It would be unlikely that they didn't eat the occasional human.

              When the first polynesian settlers showed up they would have climbed out of their Waka http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/waka-canoes [teara.govt.nz] and on to the lunch menu.

              • Re:so... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by gkai (1220896) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:38AM (#29423543)

                You totally forgot New Zealand's only native land mammal, the bat. There's an amazing video of the native bat running, because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

                Haasts Eagle bones were identified in 1870 by Julius Von Haast. This thing preyed on the Moa, a 12-foot tall 500lb flightless bird. There is no question that a human would have been a much easier much more defenseless snack than a Moa. It would be unlikely that they didn't eat the occasional human.

                A human much easier meal than a moa? The first humans before they knew about Haast eagle maybe, then the occasional child or woman, and then it was over for the easy meals, more likely encounter was full grown Maori males looking for a vengence and the high status of coming back in the tribe with Haast eagle beak, talons and feathers...

                Imho it was the occasional human meal was what caused the extinction of Haast eagle, probably more than overhunting of the Moas: No easy meal after the first few unaware victims, and systematic destruction of nests, youngs and preying adults afterwards...just like all other predators meeting the homo sapiens and having the bad idea (well, more the natural idea not yet eradicated by darwinian evolution) of thinking "this naked monkey looks like easy meal".

                And not only eat the good old homo sapiens, but also eating any of his food stock would turn a bad idea for long term survival: RIP wolves, american lions, lynx, ...: a top predator sharing territory with a sufficiently dense human population is doomed.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by nazsco (695026)

              because it'd evolved to be flightless like the birds.

              You mean 'was designed to'.

              --
              I don't mind the karma burn, just can't let a joke slip by

          • Re:so... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dunbal (464142) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:44AM (#29422827)

            Actually there is no evidence that there was ever any land animals whatsoever in NZ except for lizards, insects and spiders.

                  However unlike Australia, not all of them are poisonous and potentially fatal to humans...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by gronofer (838299)

            Actually there is no evidence that there was ever any land animals whatsoever in NZ except for lizards, insects and spiders. Unless you count flightless birds.

            I think the usual claim is no mammals except for bats. There were other animals that you didn't mention, such as worms and centipedes.

          • Re:so... (Score:5, Funny)

            by EatHam (597465) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:20AM (#29424311)
            Thanks for ruining the joke, Captain Pedantic.
    • DNA? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      Is there any chance of getting some DNA, cloning a few of these dudes, so that we can set them loose in the cities? I can see the population problem slowly improving. I can see the gene pool improving, at the same time. This idea has promise.....

  • Damn. (Score:4, Funny)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:13AM (#29422391) Homepage
    The Maori didn't mess around with animals they didn't like. They killed off the Moa too.
  • New Zealand fauna (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:13AM (#29422397)

    I lived in New Zealand for awhile and it's shocking the number of flightless birds that died out. The final death blow to some species was the introduction of rats. They ate the eggs of birds and wiped out many species of Weta Bugs. New Zealand missed out on the mega Fauna extinction their's happened in the last 2,000 years instead of 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Modern science just missed out on a lot of species. Hard to believe how different the world was 20,000 years ago, 500 years ago was nothing. It was only a few lifetimes before Europeans set foot in New Zealand.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      your sad about weta bugs? those things fucking bite you.
      • by Korgan (101803)
        No more likely to bite you than a bumble bee will bite you. Just don't piss them off and you can handle them without issue. Problem is they look pretty scary to most people. Huge grasshopper type bug with huge thorns over its legs and body that lives in dark places like caves and hollowed trees. Still, as long as you don't piss them off, you can pick them up without fear. Just hope no one before you came along and pissed it off before you got there. ;-)
    • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @07:58AM (#29424507) Homepage Journal

      and wiped out many species of Weta Bugs.

      So that's why their massive software runs so well!

  • Now this is big bird.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:18AM (#29422439)

    The eagles are coming! The eagles are coming!

    And you thought that was CG!

  • I'm just glad there weren't any environmentalists trying to save this bird, 500 years ago.

    Then again ... maybe there were a few (tasty) ones...
    • It would be cool if it was alive today...

      I mean, it's not as if that's the only creature that could singlehandedly overpower a human, even the only one that could swallow us whole. Should we have killed all the lions, tigers, and bears?

      I would love to have seen one of these in a zoo.

      Of course, the fact that they're gone means we can actually go to New Zealand safely...

  • In Tune... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:20AM (#29422455)
    The primary reason that they went extinct was due to a loss of food. The Maori hunted all of the moa species of bird (large and flightless) to extinction. Another prime example of natives living "in tune" with nature...
    • Re:In Tune... (Score:4, Informative)

      by unfunk (804468) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:34AM (#29422533) Journal
      by "natives" are you referring to the Maori people? Because they're not native to New Zealand [wikipedia.org]
      • Re:In Tune... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aussie_a (778472) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:21AM (#29422733) Journal

        Are any of us native to anywhere except Africa?

      • Human beings are not native to anyway other than Africa.

        It is usual to regard the surviving (in significant numbers) identifiable group that has been longest in a place as native - so we can regard the English as native to England, the Turks as native to Turkey, the Japanese as native to Japan etc.

        I cannot think of anywhere that has not been overrun by invaders who have displaced a previous people at some point its its history.

        • Re:In Tune... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by teh kurisu (701097) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @04:57AM (#29423627) Homepage

          The Welsh have a greater claim to be the natives of England than the English do, given that the Anglo-Saxons invaded from Europe around the 5th century AD and displaced the Brythonic tribes. Hell, even the Romans were in England before the English.

          The same is true for Scotland as well. The native Picts, most likely also Brythonic, were well established by the time the Gaels (known to the Romans as the Scotti) arrived from Ireland, but were eventually assimilated into Gaelic society.

    • by Johnno74 (252399)

      Yes, and yet modern day Maori have rights to issue themselves "Customary fishing permits" which are except from any bag limits or equipment restrictions that all other amateur fishermen must obey.

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:24AM (#29422483)
    Some species of Terror Bird [wikipedia.org] would chase down their prey and literally peck it to death. They had an interesting feature about these things on Discovery last night; with this story it just seemed appropriate to mention it.
  • A legend of a man... eating birds?

    What's next? Some kind of ...fried chicken?

  • by Plazmid (1132467) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:36AM (#29422541)
    It became extinct fairly recently, why don't we clone it? Surely these things will make a great addition to the New Zealand Air Defense Force.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by grcumb (781340)

      It became extinct fairly recently, why don't we clone it? Surely these things will make a great addition to the New Zealand Air Defense Force.

      Well, it would at least mean that New Zealand would have an Air Defence Force...

      (I'm Canadian [satirewire.com]. I'm allowed to make these jokes.)

  • According to TFA:

    With a wingspan of up to three metres and weighing 18kg, the female was twice as big as the largest living eagle, the Steller's sea eagle.

    So it's late and I don't have my trusty TI-89, can anyone calculate the maximum airspeed of this beast? ... Unladen of course =)

    I can't see it being a problem really, unless there is an African variant....

  • So, the questions begin...
    Man tastes like chicken, or was this just fowl 69-action pr0n?

    Excuse me while I bleach my brain.

  • by clickety6 (141178) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:05AM (#29424541)

    Australia also has plenty of man-eating birds only there they call them Sheilas...

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @11:08AM (#29426665) Homepage

    I went to a fair once and saw a six foot man eating chicken.

    True story.

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