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You know that old Maori legend about a giant man eating bird?

It’s true.

(And people laugh at my hummingbird phobia)

Haast’s Eagle

It weighed 40 lbs.

It was a preditor.

“…‘The science supports Maori mythology of the legendary pouakai or hokioi, a huge bird that could swoop down on people in the mountains and was capable of killing a small child,’ he said….The researchers also determined the eagle quickly evolved from a much smaller ancestor, with the body growing much more quickly than the brain. They believe its body grew 10 times bigger during the early to middle Pleistocene period, 700,000 to 1.8 million years ago.

‘This work is a great example of how rapidly evolving medical techniques and equipment can be used to solve ancient medical mysteries,’ Professor Ashwell said.

They wrote their conclusions in the peer-reviewed Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Scientists believe the Haast’s eagle became extinct due to habitat destruction and the extinction of its prey species at the hands of early Polynesian settlers.

New Zealand paleontologist Trevor Worthy said: ‘They provide a convincing case that the body of this eagle has rapidly enlarged, presumably adapting to the very much larger prey it had access to in New Zealand, but that the brain size had lagged behind this increase.’

Before the humans colonized New Zealand about 750 years ago, the largest inhabitants were birds like the Haast’s eagle and the moa….”

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