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A female of Madagascar that weighed 1100 lbs, but was much bigger than all other ratites.The largest living bird in the world today is the African ostrich which reaches a maximum weight of 114 kg (250 lb).Moa were the most significant alternative to mammals on New Zealand, taking the role of the largest dominant herbivores, the same role as large animals such as deer and elephants in other lands.After 170 years of controversy over the evolutionary history of the extinct ratite moa, research in 2009 identifies nine species, with three genera and six species in the Emeidae family, two species in the Dinornithidae family, and one Megalapterygidae species.
Genetic research has concluded that kiwi evolved from a Gondwana ancestor, that along with South American rhea and New Zealand moa diverged early in their evolution.
Since the first moa was described in 1839, this led to confusion with as many as 64 species in 20 genera at one stage, and 38 listed by Walter Rothschild in species showed limited cladistic differences.
Since Owen's description in 1839, the species had been separated primarilly on the basis of limb bone size.
It is now thought that moa had a more horizontal neck posture, however, it could have reached up to 3 metres to graze on trees.
Skeletal remains show that they were built like some dinosaurs.
The first sex-linked nuclear sequencing of an extinct species showed three morphological forms were one species, whose size was distinctly different according to sex and habitat.