Aptornis otidiformis Owen, 1844

North Island adzebill, Aptornis



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Dinornis otidiformis Owen, 1843: The Literary Gazette 1402: 778 (nomen nudum); Dinornis otidiformis Owen, 1844: Trans. Zool. Soc. London 3(3): 247 – Poverty Bay, Gisborne.; Aptornis otidiformes Owen, 1844


Conservation Status


Last record: Holocene



North Island, New Zealand


Biology & Ecology







Above: North Island Adzebill. Aptornis otidiformis. From the series: Extinct Birds of New Zealand., 2005, Masterton, by Paul Martinson. Purchased 2006. © Te Papa. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (2006-0010-1/40)



Original scientific description:

Owen, Richard. (1844). On Dinornis, an extinct genus of tridactyle struthious birds, with descriptions of portions of the  skeleton of five species which formerly existed in New Zealand. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3: 243-276.


Other references:

Boast, Alexander P. et al. (2019). Mitochondrial Genomes from New Zealand’s Extinct Adzebills (Aves: Aptornithidae: Aptornis) Support a Sister-Taxon Relationship with the Afro-Madagascan Sarothruridae. Diversity 11(2): 24.

Checklist Committee (OSNZ). (2010). Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica (4th ed.). Ornithological Society of New Zealand & Te Papa Press, Wellington. [p. 177-178]

Checklist Committee (OSNZ). (2022). Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand (5th edition). Ornithological Society of New Zealand Occasional Publication No. 1. Wellington: Ornithological Society of New Zealand. [p. 54]

Holdaway, Richard N., Worthy, Trevor H. and Tennyson, Alan J. D. (2001). A working list of breeding bird species of the New Zealand region at first human contact. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 28(2): 119-187.

Houde, P.; Cooper, A.; Leslie, E.; Shand, A. E.; Montano, G. A. 1997: Phylogeny and evolution of 12S rDNA in gruiformes (Aves). Pp. 117-154 In: Mindell, D. P. ed. Avian molecular evolution and systematics. San Diego, Academic Press. 382 pp.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser.

Livezey, Bradley C. (1994). The carpometacarpus of Apterornis. Notornis 41(1): 51-60.

Livezey, Bradley C. (1998). A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Phil.Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 353: 2077-2151.

Medway, David G. (1971). Sub-fossil avian remains from the Awakino - Mahoenui area. Notornis 18(3): 218-219.

Musser, Grace M. and Cracraft, Joel. (2019). A New Morphological Dataset Reveals a Novel Relationship for the Adzebills of New Zealand (Aptornis) and Provides a Foundation for Total Evidence Neoavian Phylogenetics. American Museum Novitates 3927: 1-70. [Abstract]

Olson, Storrs L. (1977). A synopsis of the fossil Rallidae, pp. 339-373. In: Ripley, S. D. Rails of the World. Boston: Godine.

Olson, Storrs L. (1985). The fossil record of birds, pp. 79-252. In: Farner, D. S.; King, J. R.; Parkes, K. C. ed. Avian biology, Vol. VIII. New York, Academic Press.

OPINION 1874. Aptornis Owen, 1848 (Aves): conserved as the correct original spelling. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 54(2): 142-143, 1997.

Owen, Richard. (1843). [Proceedings of a meeting of January 24, 1843]. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London [1843](120): 8-10.

Owen, Richard. (1848). On Dinornis (Part III): Containing a description of the skull and beak of that genus, and of the same characteristic parts of Palapteryx, and of two other genera of birds, Notornis and Nestor; forming part of an extensive series or ornithic remains discovered by Mr. Walter mantell at Waingongoro, North Island of New Zealand. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 3: 345-378.

Owen, Richard. (1870). On Dinornis (Part XV): Containing a description of the skull, femur, tibia, fibula, and metatarsus of Aptornis defossor, Owen, from near Oamuru, Middle Island, New Zealand; with additional observations on Aptornis otidiformis, on Notornis mantelli, and on Dinornis curtus. Transactions of the Zoological Society of London 7: 353-380.

Parker, W. K. (1866). On the structure and development of the skull in the ostrich tribe. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London clvi: 113.

Paulin, C. D. (1973). Sub-fossil avian remains from two limestone caves in North Taranaki. Mauri Ora 1: 95-98.

Robertson, H. A., Baird, K. A., Elliott, G. P., Hitchmough, R. A., McArthur, N. J., Makan, T. D., Miskelly, Colin M., O’Donnell, C. F. J., Sagar, P. M., Scofield, R. P., Taylor, G. A. and Michel, P. (2021). Conservation status of birds in Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 36. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 43 pp.

Hugh Robertson, John Dowding, Graeme Elliott, Rod Hitchmough, Colin Miskelly, Colin O’Donnell, Ralph Powlesland, Paul Sagar, Paul Scofield, Graeme Taylor. (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012. New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. 22 pp.

Rothschild, Lionel Walter. (1907). Extinct birds: an attempt to write in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times, that is within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. London: Hutchinson & Co. XXIX + 243 pp. [p. 147]

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Martinson, Paul. (2006). Extinct Birds of New Zealand. Wellington: Te Papa Press. vi + 180 pp.

Tennyson, A.J.D. & Martinson, P. 2007. Extinct birds of New Zealand. Revised edition. Wellington: Te Papa Press. vi + 180 pp.

Trotter, M. M. (1965). Avian remains from North Otago archaeological sites. Notornis 12(3): 176-178. ["Aptornis otidiformis", but from the South Island and therefore likely referable to A. defossor]

Turbott, E. G. (Convener). (1990). Checklist of the birds of New Zealand and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica, 3rd. ed. Auckland, Random Century and the Ornithological Society of New Zealand. 247 pp.

Tennyson, Alan J. D. and Martinson, Paul. (2006). Extinct Birds of New Zealand. Wellington: Te Papa Press.

Weber, E. and Hesse, A. (1995). The systematic position of Aptornis, a flightless bird from New Zealand. Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 181: 292-301.

Williams, G. R. (1962). Extinction and the land and freshwater-inhabiting birds of New Zealand. Notornis 10(1): 15-32.

Worthy, Trevor H. (1989). The glossohyal and thyroid bone of Aptornis otidiformes. Notornis 36(3): 248.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2000). Terrestrial fossil vertebrate faunas from inland Hawke's Bay, North Island, New Zealand. Part 1. Records of the Canterbury Museum 14: 89-154.

Worthy, Trevor H. and Holdaway, Richard N. (2002). The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. xxxiii + 718 pp.


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