haasts eagle

Here is something cool about Disney’s Moana

Moana maybe the the only one from any movie or TV show to have a pretty accurate presentation and introduce the Poukai/Haast’s Eagle/Harpagornis (Aquila moorei) to a much wider audience.

For those who are not aware, the Poukai was the largest eagle to have ever lived, with a wingspan of between 2 and 3 metres, and weighing up to 13 kilograms. While the eagle was only native to New Zealand, the Poukai is still a pretty big deal in Polynesian culture. Scientists are able to recreate the plumage coloration of this remarkable bird (shown in the photo below) as the Maori describe this apex predator in their stories.

It has a strong resemblance to the giant eagle/hawk Maui transforms into. Granted a bit more stylized.

Entry 15: Moa

An endemic flightless bird that once roamed New Zealand, the Moa’s largest species stood at a staggering 3.6 meters (12 feet) tall, weighing about 230 kg (510 lbs).  Though there is no record of their vocalizations, study of bones show a trachea that were up to a meter (3 feet) in length that looped the body cavity, a feature similar to swans and cranes which is associated with deep calls that can travel long distances. 

Despite their frightening size, they fed mostly on plants and twigs throughout their range in both the North and South Island of New Zealand.  They took 10 years to reach maturation and produced eggs ranging in size around late spring.  Their eggs have provided amble DNA evidence to modern scientists, which has allowed its entire genome to be sequenced.

Before humans, the only natural predator of the Moa species was the giant Haast’s Eagle.  Once the Maori people arrived around 1300, it took little over a hundred years for the Moa to be hunted to extinction.  With it, went the Haast’s Eagle, whose main food source was plucked from the food chain

Extinction Date: About 1440