Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moa-nalo

Some moa-nalo fossils have been found to contain traces of mitochondrial DNA which were compared to living duck species in order to establish their place in the duck family, Anatidae (Sorenson et al., 1999). Contrary to the expectations of some scientists, the moa-nalo were not related to the large geese (Anserinae) but instead the dabbling ducks of the genus Anas, which includes the mallard. Indeed, the present DNA analysis' resolution is not high enough to determine their relationships to different species of Anas, but biogeography strongly suggests that their closest living relative is the widespread Pacific Black Duck.[citation needed]

From the DNA sequences it has been estimated that the ancestors of the moa-nalo reached the Hawaiian Islands about 3.6 million years ago, by which time the genus Anas was already distributed worldwide. There they increased in size, but must have retained the ability to fly until they had spread to the newer islands. They seem to have lost the power of flight by the time the main island of Hawaiʻi had emerged from the sea (400,000 years ago); there, their niche was filled by one or two species of now extinct giant Branta goose presumably related to the surviving Nēnē.

Source: Wikipedia

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