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Kangaroo-Sized Flying Turkey Once Roamed Australia

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A giant flying turkey as tall as a kangaroo is among five extinct large megapode birds discovered by palaeontologists at Flinders University. All five birds were chunky relatives of today’s malleefowl and brush-turkeys, but the giant brush-turkey Progura gallinacea, which was as tall as a grey kangaroo, soars above the others.

After carefully comparing megapode fossils from Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, the researchers concluded that the remains belong to five different extinct species ranging from 3 kg to 8 kg in weight – up to four times the size of a modern malleefowl (2 kg). The big birds lived during the Pleistocene alongside Australia’s giant extinct marsupials, such as diprotodons, marsupial lions and short-faced kangaroos.

“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,” said A/Prof Trevor Worthy.

The extinct megapodes include the “tall turkeys” in the genus Progura, which had long, slender legs, and the “nuggety chickens” with short legs and broad bodies, for which the new genus Latagallina has been created.

It seems that none of these giant megapodes...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.