The world’s largest ever parrot has been discovered by palaeontologists in New Zealand.
Heracles inexpectatus stood 3ft tall and weighed more than one stone. Its beak would have been so strong, experts say, that it could have cracked open almost anything it chose to eat.
It was found as part of a mass excavation near the town of St Bathans, on New Zealand’s South Island, in an area famed for its fossils.
“New Zealand is well known for its giant birds,” said Trevor Worthy, associate professor with Flinders University, in Australia. “Giant geese and adzebills shared the forest floor, while a giant eagle ruled the skies.
“But until now, no one has ever found an extinct giant parrot – anywhere.”
The fossil, which dates back 19 million years, is roughly twice the size of the endangered flightless New Zealand kakapo bird, previously the largest known parrot.
Like the kakapo, the extinct giant was a member of an ancient New Zealand group of parrots that appear to be more primitive than their descendents today.