Giant flying turkey once roamed Australia
SYDNEY: A giant turkey and also a large kangaroo fly once populated Australia, palaeontologists said Wednesday, after a fossil and bone analysis across the country revealed five of the extinct bird species.
A team from Flinders University in South Australia said they were all generous members Malleefowl and bush shrubs.
Birds in megapode lived during the Pleistocene era, between 1.6 million and 10,000 years, along with other giants of Australian animals such as Diprotodon, marsupial lions and short-faced kangaroos.
Scientists initially thought that the fossil, first encountered in the 1880s represented an old bird, but closer examination has led them to conclude that they belong to five different species.
Among them, a turkey weighing up to eight kilograms (17 pounds) and exceeding a gray kangaroo, which can reach 1.3 meters (4 feet 3 inches) – four times larger than modern chicken.
“These results are quite remarkable because we are told that more than half of Australian megapotides were turned off during the Pleistocene, and they did not even notice until now,” said researcher Elen Shute.
“We compared the fossil described in 1880 and 1970 with recently found specimens, and with the benefit of new fossils, the differences between species became very clear.”
Newly discovered birds are divided into two categories: “large” that had turkeys, long, thin legs and “nuggetty hens”, which had short legs and broad body.
Unlike many large extinct birds like the Dodos, these megapods were not flying.
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While large and bulky, long and strong bones showed all of them could fly and probably roosted in the trees, unlike their modern cousins who build mounds to incubate their eggs.
Two new species of Thylacoleo caves on the vast plain of Nullarbor in Australia, which were a treasure since its discovery 15 years ago.
“So far, Thylacoleo caves have produced seven new species of kangaroo, the frog, two giant cuckos, and now two new megapods,” said Professor Flinders Gavin Prideaux.
“The closer we get, the more we keep finding.”