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More Lord of the Rings palaeozoology...

...on watching "The Fellowship of the Ring" again it's pretty clear that Gwaihir the Windlord is a Haast Eagle, Harpagornis moorei, an extinct giant eagle that used to prey on the Moa.

(There's a wonderful reconstruction of a Haast Eagle attacking a Moa at Te Papa, the New Zealand national museum in Wellington.)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC)
Haast eagles weren't great flyers (a pity for a bird that has a 12- to 15-foot wingspan). They'd flap up into low branches, wait for a moa to walk underneath then fall on them. The combination of that kind of weight dropping on the moa's back along with beak and talons would make short work of them.

Fortunately for humans, the Haast eagle was extinct long before we got to NZ. If they hadn't, I wonder if there'd been Maori legends of Kahunui, the great hawk, who carried away unwary children...
Mar. 3rd, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
um there were legends of the haast eagle attacking and killing maori men, women and children. it became to be known as Pouakai or "man-eater"
Mar. 3rd, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)
according to Maori legend it was known as Pouakai or "man-eater" known to kill unweary men, women and children. suposedly having a particular taste for Maori babies as it was said that they would snatch them from their mothers while they were out working in the open plains.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )