25 June 2018
They're some of the strangest birds in the world, known for their bright plumage and their penchant for fruit.
The turacos, or banana-eaters, are today found only in Africa, living in forests and savannah.
A beautifully preserved fossil bird from 52 million years ago is shaking up the family tree of the exotic birds.
The fossil's weird features suggests it is the earliest known living relative not just of the turacos, but of cuckoos and bustards (large long-legged birds).
And the fact the remains were unearthed in North America shows the distribution of different birds around the globe would have been very different in the past.
"Our analyses show with some strong support that the fossil is the earliest known representative of this group, the turacos, or the banana-eaters, that today are only found in sub-Saharan Africa," said Dr Daniel Field, a vertebrate palaeontologist in the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.
"Although, our fossil comes from western North America and it's about 52 million years old."
The attractive and colourful turacos of Africa are noisy, gregarious birds. They feed mostly on fruits and enjoy bananas, as their name suggests.
Dr Field said these fascinating birds, which he has photographed all over Africa, are a group well known to bird watchers.