Evidence for a giant parrot from the Early Miocene of New Zealand

Trevor H. Worthy, Suzanne J. Hand, Michael Archer, R. Paul Scofield, Vanesa L. De Pietri

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Insular avifaunas have repeatedly spawned evolutionary novelties in the form of unusually large, often flightless species. We report fossils from the Early Miocene St Bathans Fauna of New Zealand that attests to the former existence of a giant psittaciform, which is described as a new genus and species. The fossils are two incomplete tibiotarsi from a bird with an estimated mass of 7 kg, double that of the heaviest known parrot, the kakapo Strigops habroptila. These psittaciform fossils show that parrots join the growing group of avian taxa prone to giantism in insular species, currently restricted to palaeognaths, anatids, sylviornithids, columbids, aptornithids, ciconiids, tytonids, falconids and accipitrids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190467
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019


  • Fossil bird
  • Insular giantism
  • Psittaciformes
  • St Bathans Fauna


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