17 Dec 2013

Kiwi ancestor a small Aussie bird?

7:52 pm on 17 December 2013

A new study provides further proof the kiwi may in fact be Australian.

DNA has suggested the bird is more closely related to the Australian emu and cassowary, but there was no fossil to prove it.

That's until the researcher Dr Trevor Worthy and a team from the Canterbury museum discovered a fossil three years ago at St Bathans in Central Otago, proving the evolutionary pathway.

The senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, Paul Scofield, told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Tuesday the fossil found was about half the size of the smallest kiwi in New Zealand today, the little spotted kiwi.

Dr Scofield says although a wing bone has yet to be discovered, it is likely that the tiny bird flew over from Australia between 55 and 20 million years ago.