Giant Parrot credit Dr Brian Choo, Flinders University
Original Published Date: 
Friday, August 9, 2019

Full article issued by Flinders University.

Australasian palaeontologists with ARC support have discovered the world's largest parrot, from a fossil deposit in Central Otago, New Zealand. 

The new bird has been named Heracles inexpectatus to reflect its Herculean myth-like size and strength—and the unexpected nature of the discovery. 

New Zealand is well known to palaeontologists for its giant birds, including moas, giant geese and a giant eagle, but until now no-one had ever found an extinct giant parrot.

The researchers estimate Heracles to have been 1 m tall, weighing  about 7 kg, and believe that with a massive beak able to crack most food sources, it may have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even on other parrots.

The experts include Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) recipient Associate Professor Trevor Worthy from Flinders University, as well as colleagues at The University of New South Wales and Canterbury Museum in New Zealand. 

Photo credit: 

Reconstruction of the giant parrot Heracles, dwarfing a bevy of 8cm high Kuiornis—small New Zealand wrens scuttling about on the forest floor. Illustration by Dr Brian Choo, Flinders University.