It was a common belief even among the scientific communities that the Emu and the Kiwi’s were related to one another. The close proximity of Australia and New Zealand were cited as the reasons that both the flightless birds were related to one another.
However this myth was exploded when a new study by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), revealed that Emu and the Kiwi are more related to the giant, 275 kg extinct Madagascan elephant bird which was a 2-3 meter tall,than one another.
Australia can now no longer claim that it’s Emu is related to the Kiwi though both the flightless birds have similarities. Another interesting fact which was revealed by the study was that both the flightless birds once flew.
The study spearheaded by University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), has effectively solved the 150 years mystery about the origin of both the birds. The giant flightless “ratite” birds like the emu and ostrich were once found across the southern continents and also include the extinct giant moa of New Zealand and elephant birds of Madagascar.
Kieren Mitchell, PhD candidate with ACAD, who performed the work, said,”This result was about as unexpected as you could get. New Zealand and Madagascar were only ever distantly physically joined via Antarctica and Australia, so this result shows the ratite s must have dispersed around the world by flight,”
The findings are published in the journal Science.