Giant fossil parrot found in NZ, according to reports in ScienceDaily and ABC News 7 August 2019 and Biology Letters 7 August 2019, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0467.
Scientists from Australia and New Zealand have studied “two incomplete tibiotarsi,” (leg bones with bits missing) found in a fossil site near St Bathans in Central Otago, New Zealand, and concluded they belonged to the world’s largest parrot. They have named it Heracles inexpectatus. The name Heracles refers to a giant demi-god of Greek mythology, noted for his strength, and the name inexpectatus was given because no-one expected to find a giant parrot. The scientists estimate that parrot was a metre tall (3ft 3ins) and weighed over 7kg (15.5 pounds). This is more than twice the size of the largest living parrot, the kakapo, also of New Zealand.
The fossil deposit where it was found also contains fossils of crocodiles, turtles, bats and other mammals, and over 40 bird species.
The researchers claim that giant birds evolved in New Zealand because there was no competition from mammals. Jacqueline Nguyen of the Australian Museum’s Research Institute explained: “New Zealand is the land of birds, there are not many mammals present so it’s possible these birds have taken advantage of these empty ecological niches taken up by mammals and they flourished and became larger.” The research team suggest this region was a subtropical forest that provided a rich source of fruit and nuts for the giant parrot to eat.
Because of its size they also suggest the parrot was mainly ground dwelling, but could climb trees. According to Mike Archer of University of the New South Wales, “Heracles, as the largest parrot ever, no doubt with a massive parrot beak that could crack wide open anything it fancied, may well have dined on more than conventional parrot foods, perhaps even other parrots.”
Archer also suggested that it could have been “feeding higher up in the food chain” as parrots are “very resourceful birds in terms of culinary interests.” He went on to explain: “New Zealand keas, for example, have even developed a taste for sheep since these were introduced by European settlers in 1773.”
Editorial Comment: As the scientists have only found the legs of this parrot, there is certainly no evidence that it ate other parrots or was a carnivore at all. Most parrots are vegetarian, and a thick strong beak is good for cracking nuts and eating fruit. As long as there is plenty of these around there is no need for parrots to eat anything else.
The example of the diet change in the kea parrot is a good reminder of what has really happened to birds since they were created but have been affected by the degeneration that occurred after Noah’s Flood.
The kea parrot was completely vegetarian, feeding on fruit and seeds from the local vegetation, but when the trees were cleared by sheep farmers the kea parrots were faced with either dying out or finding something else to eat. As Mike Archer correctly commented, parrots are resourceful birds, so they found something else to eat – initially dead sheep, then small weak lambs, but later learned to make group attacks on fully grown sheep.
The “empty ecological niche” is often used to explain the evolution of animals in a particular place, but simply having a space available to live is not going to make any living creature change into something different. Large birds can only grow to this size if they already have the genetic potential to grow large when they find themselves in a place of abundant food and no predators. An empty ecological niche is not going to change any genes. A more logical explanation is that this parrot thrived in the competition free, luxuriant vegetarian diet available in post-flood New Zealand. But as New Zealand’s climate and environment degenerated and became harsher, like many other large creatures this giant parrot dwindled or died out from lack of food and shelter. This is change, but it is the opposite of evolution. More bones may show it is merely one more ancestor of modern Kiwi parrots. The real history of the world is creation followed by degeneration, and this parrot, along with the other St Bathans fossils, confirms this.
Evidence News vol. 19 No. 14
28 August 2019
Creation Research Australia
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