Science

Siberia Climate Change: Parrot Fossils Hint Subtropical Climate History In Russia

By J Russ I. , Oct 26, 2016 03:22 AM EDT

Today, parrots are seen thriving in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world. But scientists were surprised to find a fossil of the bird in Siberia that dates back 16 million years ago. This is the first time a parrot's fossil have been dug up in the region suggesting that these brightly-colored avian have once lived across the chilling expanse of Eurasia before Siberia climate change took place.

Parrot Bones Indication Of Siberia Climate Change Millions Of Years Ago

The fossil, a single leg bone taken from an island on Baikal Lake, is attributed to a small bird that exists in the late Early Miocene period sometime between 16 and 18 million years ago. The bone connects to the parrot's ankle with its toes and is a fairly small fragment. The man who found the fossil admitted that specimen is in poor condition.

"Unfortunately, the bone is poorly preserved, so I cannot say much except that it was a parrot. it was small, the size of a budgerigar. Probably nothing more," said Dr. Nikita Zelenev of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

While parrots don't fare well in freezing conditions, Zelenev said that Siberia had much hotter climate millions of years ago. He said that this unearthing came from a time interval that experts are calling Miocene climatic optimum, a period where the Earth was globally warm. The find is evidence that Siberia climate change eventually turned the region into the frigid territory it is today, the Internatioinal Business Times reported.

More Fossil Likely Going To Be Discovered In Freezing Regions

Rare though the fossil is given the area it's been taken, Zelenev said that work on this particular specimen is done as it doesn't have much to offer. "But we will continue excavating fossils in Siberia," said the scientist. "This work must result in something similarly interesting in future. At least I expect better-preserved bones to get an idea of the relationships of this Siberian parrot."

While this may be the first parrot fossil found in the region, other remains of tropical birds have been previously found in the Russian territory, according to the Belfast Telegraph. Zelenev said that though hummingbirds are tropically distributed across the world some fossil of the small avian has been unearthed in Alaska. This indicates that the Siberia climate change did have a significant influence on the province's weather; that it had once indeed been a place of warmer temperature, and Zelenev and other scientists may likely find more parrot fossils in the future, which is hopefully well-preserved this time around.

 

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