Art. XV.—On a Skeleton of Emeus crassus from the North Island.
[Read before the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 7th June, 1905.]
ON the 31st January last the Museum received from Mr. C. K. Meredith-Kaye an imperfect skeleton of a moa, which turned out to be Emeus crassus. It was found in sand by Mr. Meredith-Kaye's son, on his run, about eighteen miles south of Castle Point, on the east coast of Wellington Province.
With the exception of the legs and feet, the bones were brittle and much broken; nevertheless it is quite possible to make out the characteristics of the bird. The remains are—skull and premaxilla, with the right maxillo-palatine and both quadrates; the entoglossal bones; nineteen vertebræ, from 10 to 28; a very imperfect pelvis, with nine caudal vertebræ; a fragmentary sternum, and the remains of fourteen thoracic ribs, with five uncinates; two cervical and seven sternal ribs; a set of leg and toe bones complete, except one hallux missing. There were also about thirty-five slender oval and fifty thick round tracheal rings. Many others were destroyed, as they hardly bore handling. It was a full-grown bird, but the twenty-eighth vertebra was not anchylosed to the pelvis.
With the skeleton were found a few rounded pebbles of sandstone, and three fragments of egg-shell; the latter showing that the bird was a female, for the place in which the skeleton was found precludes us from supposing that it might have been a male sitting on an egg.
Of the skull: The calvarium is well preserved, the premaxilla is damaged but resembles that of Emeus, but the mandible is altogether absent. The right maxillo-palatine is like that of Emeus, there being no atrium to the palatine The skull resembles that of Emeus crassus, but the temporal ridges advance more over the cranial roof, the occipital
condyle does not project so much, and its neck is thicker. The paroccipital processes descend as low as the basitemporal platform. The zygomatic process is long and simple. The anterior lambdoidal ridge makes an angle in the centre of the skull, as in Anomalopteryx. The mammillar tuberosities are small. The dimensions are: Length of the basis-cranii 35 mm., roof of cranium 76 mm.; width of cranium at paroccipital processes 64 mm., width at squamosal processes 72 mm., at temporal fossæ 40 mm., at postorbital processes 81 mm.; distance between temporal ridges, 36 mm.; height of cranium, 46 mm.; width of tympanic cavity, 18 mm.; width of temporal fossa, 20 mm.; width of orbit, 31 mm.; distance between optic foramina, 10 mm.; length of quadrate, 34 mm.; greatest length of premaxilla, 78 mm.; width of the body, 36 mm.(?)
The vertebral column commences with No. 10. All the seven thoracic vertebræ are present. They resemble those of Emeus in every particular.
The sternum is much broken, but sufficiently well preserved to show that it belongs to Emeus. The width across the costal processes is about 173 mm.; the width of the body is 110 mm.; and the length of the body 112 mm.(?)
The pelvis is very incomplete. The ventral surfaces of the sacral vertebræ are broad and flattened, but without any longitudinal ridge. The width at the antitrochanters is 305 mm.
The leg-bones include both the tarsals: they resemble those of E. crassus. The following are the dimensions: Metatarsus: Length, 203 mm.; prox. width, 88 mm.; mid. width, 48 mm.; dist width, 106 mm. Tibia: Length, 482 mm.; prox. width, 148 mm.; mid. width, 46 mm.; dist. width, 76 mm. Femur: Length, 268 mm.; prox. width, 99 mm.; mid. width, 46 mm.; dist. width, 117 mm. It will thus be seen that the femur is shorter than in E. crassus from the South Island. The right metatarsus has the anterior openings of the interosseal canals about ½ in. apart, but in the left the anterior opening of the entinterosseal canal is absent, while that of the ectinterosseal is enlarged and divided by a bony ridge. Both posterior openings are present. This is a common variation in the Dinornithida.
The feet have only four phalanges in the outer toe, as is usual in Emeus. The third and ungual phalanges of the right outer toe are diseased, and there is an osseous growth at the distal end of the right femur.
I conclude, therefore, that the bird belongs to E. crassus, although it is remarkable that no bones of this species have hitherto been found in the North Island. The knowledge of the sex of the bird also adds to the importance of this skeleton, which has been mounted and is preserved in the Canterbury Museum.