Giant Parrot Probably Ate its Smaller Feathered Friends

Heracles inexpectatus stood up to one metre tall Pic: Dr Brian Choo/Flinders University

Scientists in New Zealand say they’ve found the fossilised remains of what is believed to be the world’s largest parrot.

Standing up to one metre tall and weighing around 7kg, it is thought the giant bird could well have dined on its smaller avian relations.

The remains of Heracles Inexpectatus, named after the mythical Greek demi-god and the unexpected nature of its discovery, were found in fossils up to 19 million years old from near St Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand.

Flinders University associate professor Trevor Worthy said: “New Zealand is well known for its giant birds.

“Not only moa dominated avifaunas, but giant geese and adzebills shared the forest floor, while a giant eagle ruled the skies.

“But until now, no-one has ever found an extinct giant parrot – anywhere.”

Professor Mike Archer, from the UNSW Sydney PANGEA research centre, said: “Heracles, as the largest parrot ever, no doubt with a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied, may well have dined on more than
conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots.

“Its rarity in the deposit is something we might expect if it was feeding higher up in the food chain.”

The findings of the Flinders University team were published in the Biology Letters journal.


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