Giant Kangaroo-sized Flying Turkeys Once Roamed Australia

Posted on June 14, 2017

Giant flying turkey species in Australia

Australia was home to giant, kangaroo-sized flying turkeys about two million years ago. The large turkeys were as tall as a grey kangaroo. The were relatives of the Malleefowl and Brush-turkeys that are found in Australia today. The ancient giant turkey weighed up to 8kg (17.6 lbs). This is about four times the weights of the Malleefowl.

Researchers from Flinders University say the giant turkeys lived alongside Australia's giant extinct marsupials such as diprotodons, marsupial lions and short-faced kangaroos during the Pleistocene. The large Progura gallinacea is pictured on the right in the above photograph along with a kangaroo and modern brush turkey. The large birds could fly and researchers think they probably roosted in trees. They were megapodes and probably buried their eggs in warm sand or soil.

Flinders PhD candidate Elen Shute says in the announcement, "These discoveries are quite remarkable because they tell us that more than half of Australia's megapodes went extinct during the Pleistocene, and we didn’t even realise it until now."

Trevor Worthy says, "Given several of the largest birds to have lived in Australia in recent times have escaped detection in the fossil record until now, our research shows how little we know of Australia’s immediate pre-human avifauna. Probably many smaller extinct species also await discovery by palaeontologists."

Image: Flinders University/Elen Shute, from photos by Kim Benson, Tony Rodd and Aaron C
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