Brush Turkey

Birds downsized downunder, as described in ABC News, BBC News 14 June 2017 and Royal Society Open Science doi: 10.1098/rsos.170233, published online 14 June 2017.

Three scientists at Flinders University in South Australia have carried out a review of fossils of a group of extinct birds, named megapodes, which means “big feet,” found throughout Australia. There are living megapodes in Australia, including the brush turkey and the malleefowl. They use their big feet to make mounds of leaf and forest litter or sand to incubate their eggs.

Some of the fossils which were found in the 1970’s and 1980’s were thought to have been simply larger versions of the brush turkey, but fossil brush turkeys the same size as living ones, and in the same rocks as the giant birds, have since been found in the Nullarbor Plain of southern Australia. According to David Booth of the University of Queensland, “This pretty much debunks that [theory] — saying, ‘no, we’ve actually got evidence that they were around at the same time’”.

More fossils of these giant birds were found in 2011 in the Thylacoleo Caves on the Nullarbor Plain, and the scientists have concluded there were once five species of giant megapodes in Australia, but none is simply a larger version of the living brush turkey. Brush turkeys have long flat claws, but the fossil birds have short curved claws like the claws of large footed birds in Indonesia and the Pacific. These birds bury their eggs in warm sand rather than building mounds.

The researchers estimate the largest fossil bird weighed approximately 8kg and was four times the size of a living brush turkey, or of similar size to a small kangaroo. Many of the fossil large birds had strong wing bones, indicating they could fly and roost in trees. But the sites where they are found are now dry, with sparse vegetation. The Nullarbor Plain was given its name because it has no trees (i.e. null-arbor), but according to Elen Shute, one of the researchers, “All of the accumulating evidence is that the Nullarbor Plain was a mixture of woodland and grassland environment during the Pleistocene”.

The research team also commented in their summary that the “diversity of brush-turkeys halved during the Quaternary, matching extinction rates of scrub fowl in the Pacific”.


Editorial Comment: Note what the evidence shows: there used to be more megapodes than there are now, but the big ones died out, leaving only the small ones to survive. They also lived in places filled with trees where today no trees grow.

These fossils are yet more evidence consistent with the Biblical history of the world. The present-day continent that makes up Australia was formed as part of the uprising of landforms that occurred at the end of Noah’s Flood. Initially this was a warm moist place, covered with lush vegetation and inhabited by many giant animals and birds, as the fossil record shows. Over the centuries Australia dried out as the climate degenerated from the pre-Flood warm moist environment to the post-Flood world of extreme seasons, according to God’s predictive statement to Noah in Genesis 8:22 that there would come periods of cold and heat until the end of the world. This meant a lot of vegetation, including many trees, died out in Australia, and the giant animals and birds had a hard time finding food and habitat, which would have been a big factor in their demise. This was further accelerated when the descendants of those scattered from the Tower of Babel arrived via India in Australia and hunted the animals and birds, and burnt the forests. Much change has happened in Australia over the centuries, but none of it is evolution.

If you need to know: The Quaternary refers to the most recent period in the evolutionary timetable, and is dated from 2.6 million years to the present. The Pleistocene is an era within this time dated from 1.8 million years to 11,700 years ago. Illustration: Present day brush turkey in Queensland, Australia

Evidence News vol. 17 No. 12
21 June 2017
Creation Research Australia

Were you helped by this item? If so, consider making a donation so we can keep adding more answers. For USA tax deductible donations click here. For UK tax deductible donations click here. For Australia and rest of world click here.