Kangaroo-sized turkeys flew in Australia millions of years ago, according to researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide.
Fossils discovered in caves in western Australia reveal these giant brush turkeys were as large as 3.2 feet and likely could fly and roosted in trees, CNet reported.
Known as Progura gallinacea, the megapodes are among five extinct species related to modern Malleefowl and brush turkeys, which are known for incubating their eggs in mounds on the ground, CNet noted.
The researchers compared the megapode fossils discovered in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia with museum specimens and modern species described in the 1880s and 1970s, Australian Geographic reported.
It was previously thought that all of the fossils were related to the modern mallefowl, but the new research reveals clear differences.
“The two species that were originally described are so different that they belong in separate genera,” said Elen Shute, a Flinders University PhD candidate, according to Australian Geographic. “These and three more new species were all more closely related to each other than they are to the living malleefowl.
“What’s more, we have found bones of malleefowl in fossil deposits up to a million years old, alongside bones of three extinct species of various sizes, so there’s really no evidence that dwarfing took place.”
The research was published Wednesday in the Royal Society Open Science.
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