Drawing by Dr. Brian Choo featuring a giant-sized Parrot. File photo/AFP
The remains of a super-sized parrot that stood more than half the height of an average human and roamed the earth 19 million years ago have been discovered in New Zealand.
Judging by the size of the leg bones, the bird would have stood about one metre (39 inches) tall and weighed up to seven kilograms (15.5 pounds), according to a report by an international team of palaeontologists published in the latest edition of Biology Letters.
"It could have flown but we're putting our money on it being flightless," Paul Scofield, the senior curator of natural history at Canterbury Museum, said.
We have been excavating these fossil deposits for 20 years, and each year reveals new birds and other animals... no doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit.
When the bones were found in 2008 no one was certain what they were, and they spent 11 years gathering dust on a shelf until the team looked at them again earlier this year.
"The thought they were from a giant parrot did not enter our minds. We thought it could be some type of eagle until we went back and looked at it again," Scofield said.
The parrot has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean size and strength — and the unexpected nature of the discovery.
"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," Mike Archer, from the University of NSW Palaeontology research centre, said.
The bird was approximately the size of the giant "dodo" pigeon and twice the size of the critically endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo, previously the largest known parrot.
Evidence of the parrot was unearthed in fossils near St Bathans in southern New Zealand, an area that has proved a rich source of fossils from the Miocene period which extends from about five million to 23 million years ago.
"We have been excavating these fossil deposits for 20 years, and each year reveals new birds and other animals... no doubt there are many more unexpected species yet to be discovered in this most interesting deposit."
Last year, scientists found the remains of a giant burrowing bat that lived millions of years ago in the same region.
Australia and India will be aiming to finish top of the World Cup league phase and so avoid facing hosts England in the semi-finals as they prepare for the final day of round-robin matches.
New Zealand coach Gary Stead has called for the Cricket World Cup’s rules to be overhauled, labelling the showpiece final “hollow” after England defeated the Black Caps on a technicality.
It was a superb display by the underdog Black Caps, who came into the match on the back of three straight defeats by Pakistan, Australia and England and only qualified for the semi-finals on net run-rate, while India topped the 10-team group stage.
The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has lit up its traditional floating Christmas tree - one of the biggest of its kind in the world - with musical shows and fireworks, marking the beginning of the December festivities.
Vegan alternatives such as seitan and soy can be used to recreate or substitute classic Christmas favourites for a holiday meal that is both tasty and cruelty-free.
It's a sunny morning in Mexico City, and police officers drip with sweat as they do push-ups and squats, part of a program for overweight cops in one of the world's most obese countries.