Parrot Fossil of a bird usually associated with the warmer climates was discovered recently in Siberia. Siberia, a place where only hardy wildlife such as brown bears, lynx and deer will survive is the source of this unique finding.
For the first time ever a parrot fossil has been found in Siberia and has now led to rethink about whether the tropical birds were once prevalent in Eurasia (this is the combined continental landmass of Europe and Asia).
A single parrot leg was found on an island in the Baikal lake by researchers working for the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow. Experts believe it was a part of a small bird who lived between 16 – 18 million years ago. This is the furthest north a parrot fossil has ever been found.
This discovery adds more weight to the speculations that the ancient ancestors of the modern day parrots we know could have migrated from Asia to North America, across the Beringia land bridge which once joined up the two continents.
Today there are 400 species of parrots living across the globe in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Some parrots can be even found in not so warmer climates, such as parts of New Zealand and South America.
Parrot Fossil Study
The study which led to the discovery of the parrot fossil was led by Dr Nikita Zeleny and published in the prestigious journal Biology Letters. Dr Zeleny said:
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 Psittacidae.
A dispersal of parrots via Beringia during the late Early Miocene is not completely unexpected. Today hummingbirds, which are also mostly tropical in their distribution, reach as far north as Alaska and during the warmest phase of the Miocene a more northern distribution of parrots in Asia was likely possible.
Lake Baikal is a large lake in Siberia, north of the border with Russia and Mongolia and it is believed to be the deepest lake anywhere in the world. The lake is part of the popular Great Baikal Trail hiking route.