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Dead parrot surprises scientists

AAP logoAAP 25/10/2016 John von Radowitz

To borrow a phrase from Monty Python, this bird has ceased to be and gone to meet its maker.

But the dead parrot in question surprised scientists by shuffling off its mortal coil in Siberia more than 16 million years ago.

It is the first time a parrot fossil has been found in this region and suggests that the tropical birds were once widespread in Eurasia.

The single leg bone recovered from an island on Baikal Lake belonged to a small bird from the late Early Miocene epoch between 16 and 18 million years ago.

No other parrot fossil has been discovered so far north.

The find supports the theory that ancestors of modern parrots migrated from Asia to North America via the Berengia land bridge which once joined the two continents.

Today, parrots, or psittacines, make up almost 400 species that inhabit tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world.

Dr Nikita Zelenev, from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters: "The presence of parrots as far north as Siberia supports their broad geographical distribution in Asia during Miocene and may have implications for the historical biogeography of Psittacoidea."

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