Oldest parrot fossil found in Denmark

A real viking?Palaeontologists have made a groundbreaking discovery in Scandinavia, according to reports in Science Daily. Scientists discovered the fossilised remains of parrots which could be 55 million years old. The presence of the fossils indicates that parrots, a generally tropical species of bird, once inhabited the area of the world now known as Norway and Denmark.

The discovery has led to some speculation that parrots could have evolved in the north, and emerged earlier than scientists had believed.

The fossil, which was found in northwest Denmark, on the Isle of Mors, is a previously unknown species which is being nicknamed the ‘Danish Blue Parrot’.

Dr David Waterhouse was the lead author in the paper which publicised the discovery. He explained: “Obviously, we are dealing with a bird that is bereft of life, but the tricky bit is establishing that it was a parrot. As with many fragile bird fossils, it is a wonder that anything remains at all, and all that remains of this early Danish parrot is a single upper wing bone (humerus). But, this small bone contains characteristic features that show that it is clearly from a member of the parrot family, about the size of a Yellow-crested Cockatoo.”

The species, which is scientifically named the ‘Mopsitta tanta’ is the oldest remains of a parrot ever to be found. “No Southern Hemisphere fossil parrot has been found older than about 15 million years old,” Dr. Waterhouse said. “So this new evidence suggests that parrots evolved right here in the Northern Hemisphere before diversifying further south in the tropics later on.”

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