Science and Health

Kiwi Birds Not Related To Emus After All, Study Says

New research finds the flightless bird's closest relative is the massive elephant bird.

Kiwi Birds Not Related To Emus After All, Study Says
Wikimedia Commons / Allie_Caulfield
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Turns out the kiwi bird was never related to the emu after all. That's according to new research in Australia.

Scientists have long thought the kiwi was a close relative to Australia's emu — a much larger, flightless bird. But new findings say they've been pointing to the wrong big bird for more than a century. (Via 

According to Time, scientists have found the kiwi — the national bird of New Zealand — didn't actually come from Australia and instead flew there at some point.

Researchers also say the small bird's closest relative is the massive elephant bird from Madagascar. (Via BBC)

Scientists say the 10-foot tall elephant bird once had the ability to fly before going extinct, which led them to conclude the chicken-sized kiwis flew in the past as well.

The New Zealand Herald points out scientists believe both birds descended from a small bird in Antarctica that had the ability to fly. Despite the noticeable difference in size, scientists compared the DNA of both birds and saw plenty of similarities.

The Latin Post notes scientists say the kiwi birds started flying around to different parts of the world after dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago.

A scientist whose previous research suggested kiwis might have come from Australia joked: "‚ÄčIt's great to finally set the record straight, as New Zealanders were shocked and dismayed to find that the national bird appeared to be an Australian immigrant. ... I can only [apologize] it has taken so long!" (Via The University of Adelaide)

The study was conducted by Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. The findings were published in the journal Science.