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Fossils Of A 19 Million-Year-Old Cannibal Parrot 'Squawkzilla' Found In New Zealand

The fossils of 'squawkzilla', labelled as Heracles inexpectatus, was discovered by scientists recently. A collection of its fossils in a lab storage was rediscovered by the scientists [1] .

The now extinct bird is about 3 feet tall and weighs 15 pounds, which is almost nearly double the weight of the endangered Kakapo, the largest living parrot. The squawkzilla belonged to the Early Miocene St Bathans Fauna of New Zealand.

image source: Flinders University

The scientists measured its size based on two leg bones, called tibiotarsi, under the assumption that they both came from the same bird. It is the largest parrot and might have preyed on other birds. The researchers then compared its bones to bird skeletons in the South Australian Museum collection and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's electronic collection.

The fossils were found during a research project in the lab of Flinders University, Adelaide. Palaeontologist, Trevor Worthy, a graduate student rediscovered the bones after which a team of researchers started reanalyzing the findings.

According to National Geographic, researchers concluded that the bird probably couldn't fly and ate what was on the ground and easy to reach.

Michael Archer, co-author of the research and palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales told National Geographic that the bird might have been eating other parrots, giving way to a nickname called squawkzilla.

View Article References
  1. [1] Worthy TH, Hand SJ, Archer M, Scofield RP, De Pietri VL. 2019 Evidence for a giant parrot from the Early Miocene of New Zealand. Biol. Lett. 15: 20190467.

Read more about: parrot
Story first published: Friday, August 9, 2019, 11:47 [IST]
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