The little bush moa, a turkey-sized emu lookalike that roamed New Zealand until the 13th century, may soon reveal more about its life thanks to a new study that sequenced its genome. This ancient DNA study, led by Scott V. Edwards from Harvard University, sheds light on the sensory experiences of these extinct birds.

By extracting DNA from a single bush moa toe bone and sequencing it, researchers were able to piece together a genetic map of the bird. This map suggests that bush moa had four types of cone photoreceptors, allowing them to see both color and ultraviolet light despite having small eyes. Additionally, the genome sequence indicates that they possessed a full set of taste receptors, suggesting they could have enjoyed foods like kimchi.

The study also raises questions about the evolution of flightless birds, as the absence of certain bones found in birds with wings was noted in the bush moa. While some have speculated about the potential of bringing back extinct birds like the moa, the primary goal of this research is to deepen our understanding of these fascinating creatures.

The bush moa, along with eight other moa species, are believed to have gone extinct following the arrival of Polynesian settlers in New Zealand around 800 years ago. While the possibility of resurrecting the bush moa remains uncertain, the genome sequencing provides valuable insights into its natural history.

Further research on the bush moa’s genome could uncover more mysteries about these ancient birds and their unique adaptations. Understanding the genetic makeup of extinct species like the bush moa offers a glimpse into the past and enhances our knowledge of evolutionary processes.

As scientists continue to unlock the secrets of ancient DNA, the story of the bush moa and other extinct creatures may become clearer. While bringing back these long-extinct birds may be a distant dream, the information gained from genome sequencing contributes to our broader understanding of the natural world and the creatures that once inhabited it.