One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An extinct New Zealand wattlebird with glossy black plumage, the female having a much longer and more curved bill than the male. The tail feathers were formerly prized by Maoris, and the last huia was seen in 1907.
Heteralocha acutirostris, family Callaeidae
- ‘It is believed Smith was the last person to have seen the now-extinct huia, whose tail feathers were used by Maori chiefs as a symbol of their mana.’
- ‘Their real-life counterparts the huia, the bush wren, the grayling - the list goes on - were driven out of their natural habitats, exposed to predators or hunted to extinction, often wantonly.’
- ‘No one will ever again see a living huia, or a piopio.’
- ‘But since the huia was extinct, I had to search for years for another species that would enable me to investigate that hypothesis.’
- ‘Ornithologists and naturalists, including the renowned nineteenth-century illustrator John Gould, originally classified male and female huias as two different species.’
Mid 19th century: from Maori, imitative of its cry.
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