Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gonna need a whole lot of Stove Top

This might be a total fake news story, for all I know. I checked, and the dateline said "June 14," not "April 1," so maybe it's legit.

Here it is: According to this story, turkeys that were like the size of kangaroos once ran around Australia.  This took place about 2 million years ago, which is going to confound the segment of the population that believes life began 6,000 years ago with the birth of Betty White.

The whole thing came up in conversation among scientists at Flinders University in Western Australia, after someone found fossils in the Thylacoleo Caves on the Nullarbor Plain.

At first, everyone said, "That's cool," and went to lunch, but this all must have taken place on a Wednesday, because they decided to look further into the matter after lunch.  Had the fossils turned up on a Monday or a Friday, the proximity to the weekend would have meant letting it all go, but they dug deeper and took a look at modern brush turkeys and their ancestors. 

Image result for angus young duck walk
"Taxonomic review of the late Cenozoic megapodes (Galliformes: Megapodiidae) of Australia" was published several weeks ago by the Royal Society. I'm not going to pretend I know what they're talking about here (and you wouldn't believe me if I tried) but the point of the paper was that they figure that giant 3.2 foot-tall turkeys were running all over Australia, even before the arrival of Angus Young.  This was one big bird, and if all you know about turkey flight is that "WKRP In Cincinnati" rerun where the Big Guy says of a failed Thanksgiving promotion, "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!" these big huggers could fly!  A study of the bones reveals that the giant turkey not only flew, but also roosted in trees, because who was going to stop it?

Image result for giant flying turkeys
Police sketch of alleged huge turkey
This immense Butterball has a scientific name - Progura gallinacea - and wishes to be addressed by same. Paleontologists - people who make a living studying Sarah Paleon - are all over Australia looking into what they nicknamed "chunky birds." They figure these guys weighed 6.6 pounds to 17 pounds, but with a coupon and your Giant Food loyalty card, there was usually a buy-one, get-one deal.

Incidentally - one early spring afternoon, we looked out on the deck to see a wild turkey hanging around by the grill. He did fly away, but none too gracefully.  And the very next afternoon, a little red fox came up on the deck, but that's as much fox news as I can tolerate.

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