Canberra, Jun 15 – A flying turkey as tall as a kangaroo is among five big extinct birds to have been discovered by South Australian palaeontologists.
A team from the Flinders University has identified the five species, known as megapodes, after analysing fossils from around Australia.
They say the birds lived during the Pleistocene era, between 1.6 million and 10,000 years ago, alongside other giant Australian animals like diprotodons, marsupial lions and short-faced kangaroos.
And unlike many large extinct birds, such as dodos, they were not flightless, with each having long, strong wing bones that would have allowed them to fly.
Flinders University PhD candidate and researcher Elen Shute says the discovery is ‘remarkable’ because it shows how little has been known about Australia’s birds of the era.
‘More than half of Australia’s megapodes went extinct during the Pleistocene, and we didn’t even realise it until now,’ she said in a statement.
The newly found birds fall into two categories, the ‘tall turkeys’ that had long, slender legs, and the ‘nuggetty chickens’ that had short legs and broad bodies.
They are believed to have weighed between three and eight kilograms, making them up to four times the size of the modern Malleefowl.
The fossils the Flinders team analysed were from Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia, with two of them from WA’s Thylacoleo Caves beneath the Nullarbor Plain.(Prensa Latina)