The remains of a giant parrot from 19 million years ago discovered in New Zealand | Science and Ecology | DW

The remains of a giant parrot that measured about a meter, weighed up to 7 kilos and lived 19 million years ago were discovered in New Zealand, according to a study by an international team of paleontologists published this Wednesday (08/07/2019).

The extinct parrot was baptized with the name of Heracles inexpectatus, in allusion to the god-hero of Greek mythology (Hercules, in Roman) of extraordinary strength and the unexpectedness of his find, according to a statement from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) based in Sydney.

Bones found in 2008

The scientists relied on the study of the bones of a leg, found in 2008. At the time, no one knew much what that finding meant, which remained 11 years on a shelf until they became interested in investigating them this year.

“The idea that it was a giant parrot hadn’t occurred to us. We thought it was some kind of eagle until we looked at it again,” Scofield said.

“Hercules, the largest known parrot, undoubtedly had a huge beak that could open anything he wanted in two, and he may have eaten more than usual, even other parrots,” explained Mike Archer of the Center for Paleontology Research. from the University of New South Wales.

Heracles was discovered near the town of St Bathans, at the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island among fossils dating back 19 million years. The site, which is known to host fossils of birds from the Miocene period, is the only window into a prehistoric habitat with terrestrial animals and birds that have populated New Zealand since dinosaurs inhabited the earth 66 million years ago.

“We have been excavating this fossil site for 20 years and every year new birds and other animals are found,” said paleontologist Trevor Worthy of Flinders University in Australia.

Last year, scientists discovered the fossilized remains of a bat that lived between 16 and 19 million years ago. It was three times the size of a contemporary bat, weighed 40 grams, flew but also walked on all fours.


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