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Volume 58, 1928
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On a Moa Skeleton from Amodeo Bay and Some Moa Bones from Karamu.

[Read before the Auckland Institute, May 25th, 1926; received by Editor, 31st December, 1926; issued separately, 13th August, 1927.]

(Plates 18, 19.)

A. In April of this year Mr. S. C. L. McCall presented to the Auckland Museum a moa skeleton which had been found by his son on the sandhills at Amodeo Bay, Coromandel. The bones represented are the skull, right and left femora, tibio-tarsi and tarso-metatarsi, phalanges, abraded vertebrae (26) and ribs, and fragments of pelvis and sternum.

The similar condition of all of the bones, their agreement in size and their occurrence together, without association with any other moa bones, are sufficient grounds for concluding that they are the bones of an individual bird.

This skeleton is identified as Cela geranoides (Lydekker),* (not of Owen, Trans. Zool. Soc. 3, p. 346, 1848), and as the nomenclature of this species is very involved and a new name has to be given in lieu of Owen's original name, it seems desirable to state the successive uses of the names involved in order to establish the validity of the name as used here.

1. The name geranoides was first used (as Palapteryx geranoides) by Owen (Trans. Zool. Soc. 3, p. 346, 1848), who merely gave the number of bones he had before him, the only comment being a footnote “An unpublished species defined from certain leg-bones sent home by the Rev. Mr. Cotton since the communication of my former Memoir, Part II.” This does not constitute a valid description, and the name is therefore a nomen nudum, consequently geranoides cannot be used again in the genus Palapteryx, or of the genus of which Palapteryx is a synonym. Furthermore Lydekker states (Cat. Foss Birds, p. 288) “These bones were however never described or figured and cannot now be identified.”

2. Later in the same paper (Trans. Zool. Soc. 3, p. 361, pl. 54) Owen applied the name Palapteryx geranoides to a calvarium, premaxilla, part of maxilla, and mandibles, which he regarded as a complete skull. A description and figure were given. But the use of the name here cannot stand, firstly because the original application of the name was invalid, and secondly because we cannot know whether the skull is of the same species as the previously named (but undescribed) leg bones.

The name geranoides cannot therefore be used for this skull, and some name other than geranoides should be applied to it to avoid

[Footnote] * (A (?) geranoides n. sp. Lydekker, Cat. Foss. Birds, p. 288, 1891).

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confusion with Lydekker's valid use of the name to be referred to below. I therefore propose the name Dinornis expunctus, realising that the future discovery of a similar skull associated with other bones of an individual skeleton may reveal its identity with an already described species.

The synonymy for this proposed name will therefore be:

Dinornis expunctus nom. nov.

Palapteryx geranoides Owen. Trans. Zool. Soc. 3, p. 361, pl. 54, 1848 (not necessarily of Owen. Trans. Zool. Soc. 3, p. 346, 1848).

3. The third application of the name was by Owen, as Dinornis geranoides, for a metatarsus from Te Rangatapu mentioned by him in Trans. Zool. Soc. 5, p. 402, and figured on plate 67, figs. 5 and 6. If this metatarus is cospecific with skull 2 it would bear the name D. expunctus; it is, however, probably Pachyornis pygmaeus.

4. Lydekker (1891, Cat. Foss. Birds, p. 288), stated that, as the leg-bones originally mentioned by Owen could not now be identified the skull (2) should be regarded as the type [i. e., of Anomalopteryx geranoides (Owen)]; but the reasons against this course have been given above. With regard to the other bones he wrote: “The tarso-metatarsus subsequently figured by Owen [i. e., 3 above] as Dinornis geranoides may belong to the same form as the skull; but, if not, the undermentioned specimens of the tibio-tarsus may be taken as the actual types of A (?) geranoides, which will then rank as a new species.” Five bones bearing British Museum numbers are then detailed on p. 289, and their average dimensions given on p. 288. This then is a valid description of A (?) geranoides Lydekker, and the specific name can stand as long as the tibiae on which it was founded remain outside the genus Palapteryx or of the genus Dinornis of which Palapteryx is a synonym.

Returning to the Amodeo Bay skeleton I find that the tibiae agree with those of A (?) geranoides Lydekker and examination of the associated bones indicates:


That the skull 2 above is not of the same species or genus as Lydekker's A (?) geranoides and that the latter should be referred to the genus Cela; and


That the metatarsus 3 above is not of this species either. It it probably of Pachyornis pygmaeus (Hutton).

4. The tibio-tarsus of this skeleton has the following dimensions:

Length 355mm.
Proximal width 110 mm.
Distal width ?55 mm.(abraded)
Middle width 29 mm.
Girth at middle 84 mm.

The length of this bone is somewhat greater than the average (342 mm.) given by Lydekker, but it is too large for Anomalornis didiformis and too small for Megalapteryx huttonii (A. didina). It also has the inwardly curved distal end characteristic of C. geranoides (Lyd.), but is somewhat more slender. This inward curving of the

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Fig. 1. Skull of Cela geranoides (Lyd.): Side view.
Fig. 2. Skull of Cela geranoides (Lyd.): from above.

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Fig. 3. Skull of Cela geranoides (Lyd.): Posterior view.
Fig. 4. Skull of Cela geranoides (Lyd.): Ventral view.

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distal end is also to be seen though to a lesser degree in the tibiae of Cela curta.

The dimensions of the other bones of the leg are:

Femur. Metatarsus.
Length 195 mm. 156
Proximal width — mm. 60
Distal width 80 mm. 72
Middel width 30 mm. 31
Girth at middle 108 mm. 81

We see, therefore, that the femur and metatarsus are short in proportion to the tibia, relatively and actually shorter than in A. didiformis; i. e., while the tibiae stand between A. didiformis and Megalapteryx huttoni, the metatarsi stand between A. didiformis and A. parvus. They are, however, relatively stouter than in these two species and their extremities are more expanded. In these respects they also agree with C. geranoides (Lyd.) though the metatarsus is somewhat more slender.

They are much more slender than Pachyornis pygmaeus Hutton, which Hutton once united with C. geranoides, even taking into con-sideration the slenderer North Island forms of this species. The result, therefore, of my examination of the leg-bones is to identify them as a slender form of C. geranoides (Lydekker). The persist-ence of the grooves between the units of the metatarsi indicates that this is a not quite mature individual.

Skull: The parts of the skull present are the calvarium, pre-maxillae, mandibles and portions of maxillae.

Dimensions of the Skull.
Measurement. Percentage of basis cranii.
Total length of skull 116 mm. 386
Length of basis cranii 30 mm. 100
Length of roof of cranium 68 mm. 226
Width of cranium at par-occipital pro-cesses 49 mm. 163
Width at squamosal prominences 59 mm. 196
Width at temporal fossae 43 mm. 143
Width at post-orbital processes 64 mm. 213
Distance between temporal ridges 32 mm. 106
Height of cranium 39 mm. 130
Width of tympanic cavity 18 mm. 60
Width of temporal fossa 25 mm. 83
Greatest length of premaxilla 55 mm. 183
Length of body of premaxilla 25 mm. 83
Length of mandibular ramus 109 mm. 363
Length of mandibular symphysis 16 mm. 53
Width of mandibular symphysis 15 mm. 50

The profile of the skull (fig. 1) is well arched above the post-orbital and slightly elevated above the preforntal process; the

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temproral fossae extend moderately towards the dorsal profile, but not so far as in Anomalornis or Pachyornis; the occipital plane is slightly inclined backwards and the occipital crest is prominent.

Seen from above (fig. 2) the occipital condyle is hidden by the supra-occipital, and the temporal fossae extend posteriorly to join the lambdoidal ridge; the distinction between the anterior and pos-terior lambdoidal ridges is obscure. The space between the temporal fossae is considerably more than half the width at the par-occipital processes. The posterior view (fig. 3) shows the mamillar tuber-osities to be considerably prominent, more so than in Anomalornis, and the upper margin of the tympanic cavity to be lower than the upper margin of the foramen magnum, whereas they are almost in line in Anomalornis. No venous pits (Parker, Trans. Zool. 12, p. 384) occur in the precondylar fossa; the par-occipital notch may, or may not, have had a slender bar converting it into a foramen, but as the carotid foramina are still in the condition of being open grooves, indicating a young individual, it is possible that the bridge over the par-occipital notch was not developed; the carotid foramen appears as a deep canal in the floor of the Eustachian groove.

The premaxilla is relatively slender and gently curved in profile, the apex bluntly pointed; it is longer and more pointed than in the type of C. oweni. The V-shaped mandible is correspondingly slender and curved in profile, interior and posterior angular processes well-developed.

Except for length and sharpness of the beak in which it resembles Pachyornis, this skull agrees with the type of Cela oweni Haast, and with a skull identified as Cela curta by Captain Hutton, and agrees generally with other skulls referred to Cela in profile, extent of the temporal fossae, the prominence of the mamillar tuberosities and the alignment of the upper edge of the tympanic cavity relative to the upper margin of the foraman magnum, in which latter respect how-ever it again resembles Pachyornis.

It differs from the skull originally described as Palapteryx geran-oides by Owen (Dinornis expunctus nom. nov.) in the greater descent of the mamillar tuberosities, the reniform occipital condyle notched above, the foramen magnum being widest vertically, not transversely, and the occipital and temporal fossae not being separated by a smooth area, but with their edges confluent.

In a few skull-characters and in the form of the tibia this skeleton shows an approach to Pachyornis, but it is much more slender than species of that genus, while the inward curving of the distal end of the tibia is also exhibited, as above mentioned, by Cela curta and Cela oweni, and is possibly a characteristic of the genus Cela.

Rothschild (Extinct Birds p. 189) substitutes Cela of Reichenbach for Mesopteryx as used by Parker (Trans. Zool Soc. 13), and it is desirable to note some difference between the skulls Parker described under Mesopteryx and the skulls of Cela oweni, Cela curta, and C. geranoides. They are the greater extent of the temporal fossae and their confluence with the lambdoidal ridges in Cela, curta, and C. geranoides. They are the greater extent of the temporal fossae and their confluence with the lambdoidal ridges in Cela, which confluence however is due almost as much to the forward position of the lamb-

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doidal ridge as the backward extension of the temporal fossa. The mamillar tuberosities are also more prominent in the above mentioned species. In the Auckland Museum there is a skull from Hikurangi which has the dimensions of Mesopteryx sp. a of Parker, but the form rather of his Mesopteryx sp. b, and the above mentioned differences are evident in a comparison of this Hikurangi skull with those of C. curta, oweni and geranoides. They may, however, be interspecific variations within the genus Cela.

The other portions of the skeleton are too abraded and frag-mentary for description, which is especially unfortunate in respect to the sternum and pelvis.

I am much indebted to Dr. Chilton and Mr. Tonnoir for their help in discussing the nomenclature of this species.

B. In May last year Mr. R. T. Seccombe discovered a deposit of Moa bones in a fallen-in limestone cave at Karamu, about 15 miles from Frankton. Subsequently he brought them to Auckland for identifi-cation, and kindly presented them to the Auckland Museum.

Most of the bones were in a poor state of preservation, and many were broken or incomplete. Mr. Seccombe, however, most carefully recovered all the bones that were in the cave, and it is thus possible to state the number of individuals of the four species represented.

Of Dinornis ingens there are four right and two left femora, four right and four left tibae, and the same number of right and left metatarsi; of these a pair of tibae and of metatarsi are immature and another individuals represented, two adults, one sub-immature and one immature. The dimensions of the adult bones complete enough to measure are:

Tibiae. Metatarsi.
Length 665—710 mm. Length 360—375 mm.
Proximal width 145—160 mm. Proximal width 94—100 mm.
Distal width 192—100 mm. Distal width 18—130 mm.
Middle width 45—50 mm. Middle width 41—44 mm.
Girth 130—142 mm. Girth 115—125 mm.

Dinornis novaezealandiae Owen, which, as Rothschild (Extinct Birds, p. 194) pointed out is the correct name for the form commonly referred to as D. struthioides, is represented by only a tibia and a metatarsus. These two bones are in the same condition as with regard to fossilisation, and probably represent one individual.

The dimensions are:

Tibia. Metatarsus.
Length 480 mm. Length 255 mm.
Proximal width 105 Proximal width 70 mm.
Distal width 65 Distal width 85 mm.
Middle width 38 Middle width 33 mm.
Girth 99 Girth 88 mm.
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There is some confusion with regard to the nomenclature of this species and of D. ingens. In Proceedings Zoological Society (1843), pp. 8 and 9, Owen described, under the name Dinornis novae-zealandiae, a femur, a tibio-tarsus and a tarsometatarsus, in the order named. These bones were not those of an individual. The femur therefore is the type of the species. Owen subsequently renamed this species D. struthioides, but the rules do not allow this, so D. struthioides becomes a synonym of D. novaezealandiae. The tibio-tarsus described by Owen with the femur and metatarsus under the name D. novaezealandia, is, however, too large for that species. Owen subsequently named it D. ingens. (T. Z. S. p. 247, pl. 25, figs. 1 and 2 and pl. 26, figs. 1, 2 and 3.)

Lydekker however (Cat. Foss. Birds, p. 245) applied the name D. struthioides to Owen's type femur and the metatarsus described with it, and distinguished the tibia Owen had described with them as the type of D. novaezealandia (p. 224). He united with it D. ingens and D. giganteus as ♂ and ♀ respectively. This, as the fore-going shows, is wrong. Of the three bones originally described by Owen the femur is the type of D. novaezealandia (Owen); the meta-tarsus belongs to the same species, while the tibia is the type of D. ingens (Owen).

Anomalornis didifornis (Owen), seven individuals, is well repre-sented, as might be expected, for it is a common species. Many of these bones, however, are much abraded, some are only fragments, and not one is complete enough to give measurements in every dimen-sion.

The lengths of the adult tibiae are 325 and 342 mm., the middle width 26 to 28, and the girth 74 to 78; the metatarsi are 160—175 mm. long, middle width, 31—33, and girth 83—86 mm. A set of immature bones, and a set of a young bird probably represent individuals. Finally there are the right and left femora and two left tibiae, which I have referred to Pachyornis pygmaeus.

The dimensions are:

Length. Proximal Width. Distal Width. Middle Width. Girth.
Left femur 73.5 88 34 110
Right femur 195 91 34 110
Left tibia, complete 333 105 57 33 96
Left tibia, portion 33 86
  The last is sub-immature.

These bones are on the small size for P. pygmaeus, but they are not as slender as Cela geranoides, and they are distinctly of the curved form, with much expanded extremities, of P. pygmaeus.