This photo is the final (sixth) in a series of six documenting my encounter with tokoeka (a wild kiwi).
After sitting still for a long time with the tokoeka, I was able to get one photo of its face before it slipped away for a final time. I didnt realize until after that it came out slightly blurry, but nevertheless I am glad to have at least one picture that proved that my dark blur was in fact Apteryx australis lawryi.
I am honored to have had this experience, as it is one that not even most New Zealanders get.
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Scientific name: Apteryx australis lawryi
Māori name: Tokoeka
English name: Southern Brown Kiwi
The kiwi, New Zealand's only living ratite, is the national symbol for New Zealand's biological and cultural uniqueness. The genus name Apteryx is derived from Ancient Greek "without wing": a-, "without" or "not"; pterux, "wing". (Gotch, 1995). The kiwis are indeed without wings; even if wing structures were to re-evolve, their lack of a keel bone and their genetic predisposition for feathers without barbuloles would still leave them flightless (see Ian Petersen's posting). Genetic studies (conducted right here at Victoria University of Wellington) have revealed that the Apteryx genus is more closely related to the ostrich and emu lineages than to the Moa (the now extinct ratite that, until recently, also inhabited New Zealand). The rate of evolutionary divergence amongst ratite lineages indicates that the Kiwi lineage dispersed to New Zealand sometime after the landmass separated from the Gondwanaland super-continent 80 million years ago.
Gotch, A. F. (1995) . "Ratites". Latin Names Explained. A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File. p. 183. ISBN 0 8160 3377 3.
Haddrath O, Baker AJ. Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences of extinct birds: ratite phylogenetics and the vicariance biogeography hypothesis. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 2001;268:939-945.