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New Zealand's "Mr Moa" is out of a job, his funding cut by the organisation charged with doling out research money to scientists.
Palaeontologist Trevor Worthy, fossil-hunter and co-author of a ground-breaking book on the giant birds, will not be funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology from June this year and is considering a job offer in Australia.
The decision has angered fellow scientists.
"It's yet another bitter blow, it's just ludicrous we are letting these people go," said Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences palaeontologist and geologist Dr Hamish Campbell.
Dr Campbell said independent scientists outside Crown research institutes and universities were being "kicked into touch" by FoRST.
Te Papa's curator of birds, Sandy Bartle, said museum-goers would be worse off without Mr Worthy's work.
"We're really surprised and upset by this decision," he said.
"Not only is Trevor the largest donor of birds to the Te Papa collection, his work has been greeted internationally with terrific acclaim.
"He's achieved more in the last 20 years than all the other moa researchers in history put together."
Mr Bartle said the museum received more inquiries about moa than any other animal.
Along with research papers published in leading international science journals such as Nature and Science, Mr Worthy's 2002 book, The Lost World of the Moa, written in partnership with extinction biologist Richard Holdaway, is considered to be the moa textbook.
He is largely self-taught after becoming interested in fossils as a caver. He was part of the research team that unearthed a treasure-trove of "mega-fauna" fossils in Otago in 2002, including evidence of giant snakes and ancient crocodiles that existed up to 18 million years ago.
Mr Worthy said this year's FoRST funding was "hugely over-bidded", with more than $4 million-worth of projects competing for $300,000.
He had been funded through FoRST for 15 years, this year asking $200,000 over four years out which he had to pay two employees, travel and carbon-dating costs.
He said he had been offered a job in New South Wales and was considering his options.