Giant Parrot Fossils Discovered in New Zealand

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Paleontologists had surprised the whole world when they came upon the fossils of a giant bird eleven years ago. The fossils were discovered near St. Bathans, a city of Otago in New Zealand, a region in which many other fossils have been found from different ancient epochs, such as the Miocene epoch that lasted between 23 million to 5.3 million years ago.

At first, the fossils were believed to have belonged to an ancestor of ducks or eagles, and have been stored ever since their discovery. Following a happy accident, a student of an eminent paleontologist that specialized in the taxonomic circumscription and phylogenetic analyses of fossil birds of the Australasia – Pacific region, Professor Trevor Worthy, realized that the bones said another story. During a research project, the student realized that the beak of the fossilized bird was massive and appeared strong, able to break open anything, regardless of hardness or size.

Giant parrot fossils discovered in New Zealand

After further analysis of the bones, the team of paleontologists found some interesting facts about the bird. It was determined to have all the characteristics of parrots, except it had the height of 1 m (3 ft 2 in) and weighed more than 7 kg (1 stone). This is the biggest parrot that ever existed on our planet and the only one, thus making the discovery noteworthy. It was calculated that the bird roamed the region 19 million years ago and that it was a threat to other animals from that time as it is believed to have great strength and have been carnivorous and unable to fly, even though it was part of the bird species.

The giant parrot received the name Heracles inexpectatus because of its impressive characteristics. It is interesting to note that it had no predators and spent most of the time sitting on the ground. Other birds that roamed New Zealand and had been larger than the birds we know today are the moa, that consist of nine species and could reach up to 3.6 m (12 ft) tall. It seems that New Zealand was the home of many species of birds in comparison to other regions on Earth.

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