An evolutionist professor admits that while certain fossils can yield useful (even surprising!) information, there are limits
Giant flightless birds up to three metres (10 ft) high that once roamed New Zealand have been frustrating evolutionary scientists trying to make sense of their DNA. They could analyse the DNA because moas became extinct only some 600 years or so ago, and thus scientists have access to the remains of many specimens, as Professor Alan Cooper, a New Zealander at the University of Adelaide, Australia, explains:
“The moa … I’ve been working on them my entire career. I think they’re fantastic things. They’re like an emu but XXL.1 Actually we’ve just reconstructed what they’d look like using feathers from caves all over New Zealand.”2
From analyzing the DNA from these feathers, Cooper said that he and his colleagues were able to identify “which species each feather came from”—and here’s where it got interesting. It turned out that what had been thought to be different species of moa were actually different sexes, as Professor Cooper recounted:
“I’ve been struggling with it ever since my Ph.D. In trying to do phylogenetics3 on moas I had looked at this particular group Dinornis, the one you’ll always see in a museum. If you go to a museum, you see a great big tall moa from New Zealand, that will be Dinornis. The moas come in two versions; tall and thin, and short and fat, and the tall and thin are the Dinornis group. And there were three species and they were found all over New Zealand and there’s hundreds of specimens of them, there’s even mummies of them, and it turned out I could never get any genetic difference between them, and it was driving me nuts trying to get these three species sorted out.”….
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