The Atlantic

The First Species to Have Every Individual’s Genome Sequenced

It’s an endearing, giant, flightless, New Zealand parrot, and it’s a poster child for the quantified-self movement.
Source: Andrew Digby / New Zealand Department of Conservation

When humans first settled in New Zealand in the 13th century, they found a wonderland of strange creatures—including a green, bumbling parrot with the face of an owl and the mien of an old gentleman. That was the kakapo—the world’s largest parrot, and its only flightless one. It had a set of endearing traits—a disc of whisker-like facial feathers, a ponderous slow-motion gait, and a habit of awkwardly climbing trees with its beak and large wings—that made it easy to love. It also had a set of unfortunate traits—an inability to fly, a naïveté toward danger, a distinctive earthy smell, and a habit of freezing when threatened—that make it easy to kill.

And so the Māori killed them, to make meals and cloaks. The dogs and rats that accompanied the Māori to New Zealand contributed to the slaughter. And in the 19th century, European settlers and their coterie of stoats, weasels, cats, and dogs dealt the coup

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