Computer scans of the fossil remains of the Haast’s eagle, a giant raptor that went extinct 500 years ago, show that the bird was a predator, not a scavenger as previously thought.
Scientists believe the Haast’s eagle became extinct about 500 years ago, most likely due to habitat destruction and the extinction of its prey species at the hands of early Polynesian settlers. Before the humans colonized New Zealand about 750 years ago, the largest inhabitants were birds like the Haast’s eagle and the moa.
Scofield said the findings are similar to what he found in Maori folk tales. “The science supports Maori mythology of the legendary pouakai or hokioi, a huge bird that could swoop down on people in the mountains and was capable of killing a small child,” he said.