AS tall as a grey kangaroo but capable of flight, Australia’s early explorers would surely have wigged out had they encountered the country’s original giant turkeys.
Jamie Seidel News Corp Australia Network
June 14, 201711:47am
Fossil finds show giant ‘tall turkeys’ once roosted in the sand, perched in the trees — and flew the skies — of Australia’s Pleistocene landscape.
BLACK swans. Huge hopping ‘mice’. Would Australia’s early explorers totally flipped out had they encountered our giant flying turkeys?
Though they had long since gone the way of rhinoceros-sized wombats (Diprotodon) and drop-bears (Thylacoleo carnifex), it turns out ancient Australia was once inhabited by a variety of giant birds.
And we’ve only just discovered they existed.
“More than half of Australia’s megapodes went extinct during the Pleistocene, and we didn’t even realise it until now,” says Flinders PhD candidate and researcher Elen Shute.
Their discovery is published in today’s edition of the science journal Royal Society Open Science.
In the case of Progura gallinacea, it was as tall as a grey kangaroo. And it flew.
The oversized bush turkey stands tall among a list of five extinct megapode (incubator) birds discovered by palaeontologists at Flinders University.
The researchers carefully compared a scattering of fossils gathered from Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
The sorting process revealed the five different varieties, ranging in weight from 3kg to 8kg.
Modern Malleefowl top out at 2kg.