The takahē is a large, flightless bird – the largest living rail bird in the world. Rails are a family of ground-living birds that live on every continent except Antarctica. Takahē are endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand, which means they naturally live here and nowhere else in the world. Takahē evolved without ground-dwelling predators. Like the kiwi, takahē adapted to this situation by developing a large body size, small wings and strong legs. On average, an adult takahē weighs 2–3.5 kg and stands about 500 mm high. This large body size is an advantage to species that live in cold environments.
Related Hub resources:
- New Zealand’s unique ecology – article
- Native bird adaptations – article
- Takahē – an introduction – article
- The takahē’s evolutionary history– article
- The takahē’s ecological niche – article
Related ZEALANDIA resource:
- Adaptations visual organiser – template for students to organise ideas related to adaptations of red deer, stoat, snow tussock and takahē
Acknowledgement: Photo of skeleton of a South Island takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri) by Kane Fleury, courtesy of the Otago Museum, Dunedin.
Point of interest: The greasy marks on the skeleton are artefacts from the process used to prepare this skeleton for the museum.