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Volume 1, 1868
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Art. II—On the Measurements of Dinornis Bones, obtained from excavations in a swamp, situated at Glenmark, on the property of Messrs. Kermode and Co., up to February 15, 1868.

[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, July 28, 1868.]

The locality in question, situate on the property of Messrs. Kermode and Co., north of the river Waipara, has long been celebrated for the great number of Moa bones found there, and which have been dug out

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of drainage channels cut in various directions through the swamp. The New Zealand partner, G. H. Moore, Esq., at my request, not only handed over all the bones in his possession to the Canterbury museum, but allowed me, moreover, to make extensive excavations, the results of which exceeded my most sanguine expectations. Last October, when sending a collection of Moa bones to W. H. Flowers, Esq., F.R.S., the Conservator of the Hunterian museum, for exchange with the British museum, I gave a list of the measurements of the different species of Dinornis and Palapteryx for publication in England. Since then, some more excavations have been undertaken for the Provincial Government of Canterbury; and as I consider that the exact measurements of the bones found, will not be without interest to scientific societies in New Zealand, I have the honor to forward a copy of the list, sent previously to England, after adding to it the results of the latest excavations made since that time. Next winter I hope to embody the results of my observations on Dinornis, in a more extended paper, with a full description of the ground in which the bones were imbedded, the probable causes through which the numerous specimens were destroyed, and to which they owe the preservation of their osseous remains.

Before proceeding to the main subject of these notes, namely, to give the measurements of the different species and their varieties, I wish to state that it was on very few occasions only, that I was able to obtain all the bones of a specimen lying together, in situ, as, in general, a great quantity of the remains of different species were mixed together. In fact, as I shall show in some future notes, there were often twenty-five to thirty specimens so closely imbedded, and packed together, that the whole formed one mass, rendering it impossible to separate the bones of each bird from the rest. Consequently, I was compelled, with the active cooperation of my assistant, Mr. F. Fuller, to select, first, all the bones belonging to the same species, and afterwards to articulate each specimen from the whole material, a work which required much time, as the quantity of excavated bones was so great.

Dinornis casuarinus. Owen.

When classifying the large material at my command, I found that the leg bones belonging to this species, were of three distinct sizes, and that a transition never occurred between them.

Although the bones of each subdivision showed small and unimportant differences when compared one with the other, they have, nevertheless, a very close resemblance in every òther respect.

After having placed together all the bones bearing the same general character, I found that we possessed portions of at least forty-five specimens, arranged in the three subdivisions following, namely:

No. 1,

largest size, 15 specimens.

No. 2,

middle size, 16 specimens.

No. 3,

smallest size, 14 specimens.

It may be here observed, that this number represents only a portion of the specimens buried in the swamp, as many of the bones were either lost, broken into fragments, or they were altogether inaccessible, so that without doubt, many odd leg bones were matched together, being exactly

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of the same size and character, although they belonged originally to different individuals.

No. 1. Din. casuarinus.—Largest size.

On examining the tarsus-metatarsus of this subdivision, I found that it corresponded best with one figured by Professor Owen, as crassus (Plate 48, p. 324, Vol. 3, Trans. Zool. Society), although the measurements of crassus given by Professor Owen, further on in his excellent memoirs, differ slightly from the specimen in question, and, as it appears to me, from his own figured metatarsus.

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 8.8 in. 9.2 in. 5.1 in. 10.8 in.
Tibie 18.7 " 14.9 " 4.8 " 10.5 "
Femur 11.0 " 12.4 " 5.6 " 13.0 "

It will be seen, that when compared with Professor Owen's monographs, the metatarsus of this subdivision or variety, is a little larger, the tibia exactly of the same size, and the femur a little larger than his casuarinus.

No. 2. Din. casuarinus. Owen.—Middle size.

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Grith of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatrsus 8.4 in. 8.8 in. 4.5 in. 10.3 in.
Tibia 18.5 " 12.7 " 4.4 " 10.1 "
Femur 10.8 " 11.4 " 5.5 " 12.6 "

Thus, the metatarsus is a few lines longer, the tibia resembles the former closely—except that it is slightly thinner, and one-tenth of an' inch shorter—the femur is exactly like Professor Owen's casurinus; so that it may be said, that this size fully agrees with the specific character of his species.

The articulated skeleton, in the Canterbury museum, is taken from this subdivision.

No. 3. Din. casuarinus. Owen.—Smallest size.

The bones of this variety agree in every respect with those of the foregoing subdivisions, except that they are somewhat smaller.

Compared with Professor Owen's drawings, the metatarsus is more slender, as is also the case with the tibia, which is three-tenths of an inch shorter, and the same may be said of the femur. Moreover, the bones are altogether smoother, and the line of coalescence of the proximal epiphysis, is still sometimes faintly indicated; they belong therefore, without doubt, to specimens which were not yet full grown. May I therefore suggest, that Nos. 1 and 2 represent, perhaps, male and female, while No. 3 consists of specimens of either sex, which have not yet attained their full development.

Dinornis didiformis. Owen.

According to my measurements, the same difference of size is also strikingly shown by the specimens of this species, of which a great quantity of bones was excavated under my direction.

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When put together, these formed also three distinct sizes, like the preceding species; with no gradations between them.

We obtained from our excavations, portions, or complete leg bones, of

No. 4,

largest size, 17 specimens.

No. 5,

middle size, 12 specimens.

No. 6,

smallest size, 8 specimens.

No. 4.

Din. didiformis.—Largest size.

The femur of this subdivision resembles very much that of dromioides, Owen, both in shape and size. It is somewhat larger than Professor Owen's figured specimen of didiformis (Trans. Zool. Society, Vol. III, plate 24, p. 249.) The tibia is identical with Professor Owen's figured tibia, while the metatarsus is two-tenths of an inch shorter than his, although identical in all other characteristics:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end
Tarsus metatarsus 7.5 in. 7.3 in. 4.4 in. 9.2 in.
Tibia 15.6 " 11.1 " 3.9 " 8.9 "
Femur 9.6 " 10.0 " 5.0 " 10.8 "

The skeleton articulated for the Canterbury museum, has been selected from this subdivision.

No. 5. Din. didiformis.—Middle size.

The femur is larger than Professor Owen's didiformis, but smaller than his dromioides.

The tibia is about three-tenths of an inch shorter than Professor Owen's, and comparatively more slender.

The metatarsus exhibits the same characters as the figured one, but is shorter by nearly an inch:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft; thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 7.0 in. 7.2 in. 4.0 in. 8.6 in.
Tibia 15.3 " 10.1 " 3.7 " 8.6 "
Femur 9.0 " 9.5 " 4.3 " 9.8 "

No. 6. Din. didiformis.—Smallest size.

Femur still a little larger generally, tibia and metatarsus smaller, than Professor Owen's figured bones; but I may observe that I articulated this subdivision only after great hesitation, and that I do not feel at all satisfied about its correctness. However, several of the bones were found lying close together, and may therefore have really belonged to one bird; and the general character of the bones may lead us again to the conclusion that they were young specimens. of the two former:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 6.9 in. 7.3 in. 4.0 in. 8.8 in.
Tibia 14.6 " 11.1 " 3.8 " 9.0 "
Femur 9.0 " 9.1 " 4.7 " 10.9 "
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No. 7. Dinornis.—Sp.

We possess only the three principal bones of one leg, and odd bones of two other specimens; they are larger and slightly, thicker than those of Dinornis struthioides. On the other hand they are much smaller than those of Palapteryx ingens. There is no dent or depression on the back of the metatarsus, for the attachment of the back metatarsal trachlea. This bird was bow-legged, and resembled, most, Dinornis struthioides, in its principal characteristics, although of larger dimensions:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 12.9 in. 10.8 in. 4.7 in. 13.2 in.
Tibia 24.8 " 14.8 " 5.2 " 12.7 "
Femur 12.3 " 14.3 " 6.4 " 14.8 "

The bones belong evidently to adult birds. Three specimens.

No. 8. Palapteryx ingens. Owen.

We obtained only portions of one single specimen from Glenmark, which agree closely with the figures and measurements given by Professor Owen. It is remarkable that there were no more, considering the large quantity of bones of other species dug out.

Well preserved parts of another species of the same, were obtained at Heathcote, near the foot of Banks' Peninsula, from a drain five or six feet deep, cut in sandy loam (silt); the bones are a little smaller than Professor Owen's figure, but they are larger than those found in a cave in the province of Nelson, and from which Dr. Jaeger, in Vienna, constructed his cast. For comparison, I append the measurements of the Heathcote specimen:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarusus 15.1 in. 11.5 in. 5.7 in. 13.6 in.
Tibia 29.5 " 17.6 " 6.0 " 15.0 "
Femur 14.2 " 15.2 " 7.6 " 17.0 "

The metatarsus has the hollow for the attachment of the back trachlea well marked, and the general character of the bones shows clearly that they belonged to a well developed strong (male ?) bird.

No. 10. Dinornis gracilis. Owen.

Of this elegant species, three more or less complete specimens were found amongst the excavated bones, which agree, in every respect, with Professor Owen's figures. For comparison, I shall give the measurements of the best preserved specimen:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 12.6 in. 10.3 in. 4.6 in. 12.0 in.
Tibia 23.0 " 13.9 " 4.7 " 11.3 "
Femur 11.4 " 11.3 " 5.4 " 12.7 "

No. 11. Dinornis struthioides. Owen.

This species, of which I obtained portions of six specimens, agrees also perfectly with Professor Owen's drawings; only the tibia is gene-

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rally a trifle longer. It is rather remarkable that Pal. ingens and Din. struthioides and gracilis are of such rare occurrence, when we consider what a great quantity of bones of the other species were found associated with them:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 11.9 in. 10.0 in. 4.6 in. 11.4 in.
Tibia 21.2 " 12.5 " 4.6 " 11.2 "
Femur 11.3 " 12.2 " 6.0 " 12.7 "

No, 12. Dinornis elephantopus. Owen.

Of this remarkable species, bones of at least nine, more or less complete, individuals were excavated—of which four were of the same size as those figured by Professor Owen—while the five others decrease gradually to the size of No. 13, without my being able to find any line of demarkation between them. Of one of these large specimens which were found together in their natural position, I give here the measurements; they represent, at the same time, the character of the three large specimens excavated.

Of the Glenmark bones, the metatarsus is generally larger than Professor Owen's, according to his measurements; the tibia, between the two measurements he gives; the femur is also slightly smaller than the one Professor Owen figures:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 9.8 in. 12.3 in. 6.8 in. 15.2 in.
Tibia 22.8 " 18.7 " 6.3 " 14.5 "
Femur 12.8 " 15.5 " 7.7 " 17.4 "

When examining the back of the metatarsal bones of these, and of the following, Nos. 13, 14,15, and 16, which form, probably, one distinct genus of the Dinornithes, I observed in most of them, distinct, and sometimes rough, grooves, which appeared to have been caused by the attachment of the rudimental metatarsus of the back toe. At the same time, the numerous back metatarsal trachleas, back phalanges, and spurs of different sizes, suggested the probability that they belonged to those remarkable birds, which in every respect are quite distinct from the species of which I gave, before, the measurements; as well as from the larger forms of Dinornis giganteus and robustus, about which I shall speak in the sequel. As I have sent a complete set of these back metatarsal bones to Professor Owen for examination, I have no doubt that the conclusion I arrived at will be fully verified; and that thus another subdivision has to be made, to which all the elephantopus and crassus species may belong. Moreover, the form of the skulls of these rémarkable species having all the same characteristic features, differs so much from those of the other Dinornithes, that it offers us confirmatory evidence of their being quite a distinct genus.

No. 13. Din. (elephantopus?)—Smaller size.

We obtained the leg bones of seven specimens, which agree in size and form in every respect. They are the smallest size of the elephantopus

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species, in the gradation downwards. There is then, a distinct break between this No. 13, and the next size, No. 16, Din. (crassus?)

The eight leg bones forwarded to London, are those which articulated well together; but as they were mixed up with a great many others, I am not quite certain that they belong to the same birds.

The specimen articulated in the Canterbury museum, is of the same size as this No. 13, and were found together in situ.


Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarusus 8.2 in. 10.1 in. 6.0 in. 13.0 in.
Tibia 19.2 " 15.6 " 5.2 " 12.8 "
Femur 12.0 " 14.0 " 6.6 " 15.4 "

The metatarsus is longer, and in every respect larger, than Professor Owen's crassus, according to his list. The tibia has the length of Professor Owen's crassus (in list), but it is thicker round the shaft and at both extremities. The femur is also a little longer and thicker.

No. 14. Dinornis (elephantopus ?)

Of this remarkable species (or variety), we obtained only the bones of two specimens; they were lying close together, but mixed with those of No. 13:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 8.8 in. 10.3 in. 5.5 in. 13.2 in.
Tibia 21.0 " 16.2 " 5.7 " 13.4 "
Femur 11.8 " 13.8 " 6.4 " 15.0 "

The metatarsus is of the same length as Professor Owen's measurements of crassus, but it is thicker in every respect. The tibia is larger and longer, whilst the femur agrees in length but is a little thicker.

No. 15. Dinornis (elephantopus?)

Of this species, or variety, which is somewhat similar to the former, we obtained bones belonging to four specimens (one incomplete); they were also mixed with bones of Nos. 12, 13, 14, and 16, so that we articulated them to the best of our knowledge:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 9.2 in. 10.0 in. 5.7 in. 12.6 in.
Tibia 19.25 " 15.7 " 5.2 " 11.3 "
Femur 11.7 " 12.6 " 6.1 " 14.6 "

According to this list of measurements, this metatarsus is larger and thicker than Professor Owen's crassus. It is of the same length as elephantopus, but it is thinner; altogether it has quite a different character from the last named species. The tibia is of the same length as crassus, but thicker. The femur is shorter than crassus, but a little thicker.

No. 16. Dinornis crassus. (?)

Of this species we obtained fourteen, more or less, complete specimens, so that I had ample material to assure myself of the correctness of its specific character.

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Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 7.9 in. 9.0 in. 4.8 in. 11.1 in.
Tibia 16.7 " 14.2 " 5.0 " 10.6 "
Femur 10.8 " 12.9 " 6.0 " 15.3 "

The metatarsus is shorter than Professor Owen's crassus, the circumference larger, but the proximal end is somewhat smaller.

The tibia is shorter, but again thicker, than Professor Owen's crasSus.

The femur is also shorter, whilst the circumference is the same, as Professor Owen's species. An examination of the general character shows that it is a somewhat smaller, but stouter, bird, than Professor Owen's crassus. The bird articulated in the Canterbury museum as crassus, is this No. 16.

No. 17. Dinornis….. (?)

A species smaller than No. 16, but partaking still of the same character.


Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 7.4 in. 7.5 in. 4.5 in. 10.3 in.
Tibia 15.7 " 14.4 " 4.4 " 9.5 "
Femur 9.3 " 10.5 " 5.3 " 11.4 "

We obtained three specimens of this interesting, small bird, which closes the Elephantopus family.

No. 18. Dinornis (maximus . Owen. ?)

Of this specimen we obtained the perfect pelvis, the right femur, tibia and fibula, and the first two dorsal vertebræ, lying still in their original position. We dug all round these bones, but our researches were not rewarded by finding any more remains belonging to the same specimen. A fragment of a metatarsus, however, which was lying in a drain not far from the spot, seemed, from its size, to have belonged to this or to a similar bird. I may here observe, that, judging from the size of the two dorsal vertebræ, still larger specimens of Dinornis are entombed in the same swamp, because we obtained a nearly complete neck of one of still larger dimensions, than that belonging to No. 18, the other portions of which have not been found.


Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 8.1 in.
Tibia 39.2 in. 22.5 in. 8.7 " 17.6 in.
Femur 18.4 " 19.0 " 9.6 " 21.7 "

The metatarsus, of which, as before observed, we have only a fragment, is remarkably flat and broad, and does not narrow towards the middle like Din. giganteus; when restored according to the metatarsus belonging to No. 19, it would be about twenty-three inches long.

We obtained also, parts of a specimen of No. 19, which have all the characteristics of this species, but somewhat smaller in all the dimensions.

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The tibia is remarkably thick round the shaft, and presents altogether a very different appearance from that of Din. giganteus.

No. 20. Dinornis giganteus.

Bones were obtained belonging to six distinct birds of this species, one of the most perfect of which, when articulated, measured nine feet ten inches, and of which I send a photograph. The character of its bones is identical with those given by Professor Owen, except in some small details:

Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 18.9 in. 13.1 in. 6.8 in. 16.6 in.
Tibia 34.0 " 21.0 " 6.9 " 17.5 "
Femur 16.5 " 16.1 " 8.7 " 18.6 "

No. 21. Dinornis robustus. Owen.

The measurements given are those of the specimen articulated for the Canterbury museum. Besides which, we obtained a few bones belonging to another bird, very little inferior in size. Both correspond well with the figures and descriptions of Professor Owen.


Length of bone. Girth of proximal end. Girth of shaft, thinnest part. Girth of distal end.
Tarsus metatarsus 16.2 in. 12.6 in. 6.2 in. 15.2 in.
Tibia 30.4 " 19.1 " 6.8 " 14.5 "
Femur 14.6 " 15.5 " 7.7 " 17.5 "

[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

Table of Measurements of Some Crania in the Canterbury Museum
Breadth of cranium across the mastoids. Length of cranium from superoccipital crest ot premaxillaræ fossæ. Breadth of cranium across the temporal fossæ Formen magnum. Depression between the two tuberosities below basioccipital to parietal.
ins. ins. ins. ins. ins.
No. 1. Dinornis giganteus, belonging to our articulated skeleton 4.55 3.70 2.90 .70vert.
.65 across
No.2 Dinornis giganteus 4.40 broken 2.95 .85vert.
.75 across
No. 3. Dinornis giganteus 4.25 3.65 2.80 .65 vert.
.65 across
No. 4. Dinornis robustus 4.10 3.55 2.85 .60vert.
.70 across
No. 5. Dinornis…..(probably gracilis) 2.85 2.95 1.85 .57 vert.
.54 across
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[The section below cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]

List of Dinornis Bones,
Belonging to the Following Species, According to the Preceding Measurements:
No. 1, 15  
" 2, 16 45 Din. casuarinus
" 3, 14  
" 4. 17  
" 5, 12 37 " didiformis
" 6, 8  
" 7,   3 " species
" 8,   1 Pal. ingens
" 10,   3 Din. gracilis
" 11,   6 " struthioides
" 12,   9 " elephantopus
" 13,   7 " ditto (smaller size)
" 14,   2 " ditto (?)
" 15,   4 " ditto (?)
" 16,   14 " crassus
" 17,   3 " (?) sp.
" 18,   1 " maximus (?)
" 19,   1 " ditto, smaller
" 20,   6 " giganteus
" 21,   2 " robustus
  Total, 144 adult birds
    27 young birds of different species.
  Grand total, 171