When ‘Squawkzilla’ roamed the earth, some parrots were the size of toddlers, study says

The dodo has a new companion on the list of massive, flightless and extinct birds.

Scientists in New Zealand discovered the existence of a prehistoric parrot that stood about three feet tall — about the height of most 3-year-olds — and weighed about 15 pounds. That’s more than double the size of a normal parrot by today’s standards.

The bird has been dubbed Heracles inexpectatus, because of its Herculean-like size. It’s the largest parrot known to science, according to a summary of the study’s findings. An illustration published in the study shows the prehistoric parrot coming up to a human’s belly button.

The bird is commonly referred to in media reports as “Squawkzilla.”

The fossils were initially unearthed in 2008 at St. Bathans in Central Otago, which sits on top of an extinct lake, according to National Geographic. They were then saved at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa collections.

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For years, the leg bones gathered dust sitting next to eagles’ bones until a graduate student realized they belonged to a completely different bird, National Geographic reported.

Researchers determined that the bones came from the early Miocene period, which spans from 23 million to 16 million years ago, according to the Washington Post.

 “There are no other giant parrots in the world,” Professor Trevor Worthy, a paleontologist at Flinders University in Australia and lead author of the study, told the BBC. “Finding one is very significant.”

With only two large leg bones, Worthy also told the BBC that there is still much to learn about the large, prehistoric parrot. 

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

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