First parrot fossil unearthed in Siberia

Moscow: Researchers have unearthed the first parrot fossil in Siberia, dating back 16 to 18 million years, the furthest north these birds have ever been found.

The discovery of a single parrot bone in the Baikal region suggests that the birds, which today mainly inhabit tropical and sub-tropical regions, may once have been widespread in Eurasia.

“No one before has ever found evidence of their presence in Siberia,” said study author Nikita Zelenkov, from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

“We were excavating all kinds of animals there, and mostly they were rodents, rhinos, cats, hippos and others,” said Zelenkov.

“But this locality is also interesting because it preserves a rich community of fossil birds. But no exotic birds have been found there before,” Zelenkov said. Researchers unearthed part of a bone called a tarsometatarsus, which is found in the lower leg of birds.

After comparing it with other species, they discovered that it belonged to a small parrot, ‘BBC News’ reported. “Unfortunately, this find is not good enough to reconstruct the appearance or lifestyle of this parrot, but we can see that it was rather similar to modern ones. So it was likely a very modern-looking small bird, around the size of a budgerigar,” Zelenkov added. The research is published in the journal Biology Letters.

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