Scientists from the University of New Mexico have found the remains of a giant pigeon, Tongoenas burleyi, on the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga in Oceania, according to the portal "Eurekalert!"
The pigeon may be among the most common animals city-dwellers encounter on a daily basis, especially if they donít own any house pets. However, US researchers in Polynesia have discovered an ancient relative of the modern pigeon which was a little less ordinary. They measured 50 cm in length, and weighed five times as much as modern pigeons.
The diet of this extinct species consisted of mango and guava fruits.
"Some of these trees have big, fleshy fruit, clearly adapted for a big pigeon to gulp whole and pass the seeds. Of the fruit-eating pigeons, this bird is the largest and could have gulped bigger canopy fruit than any others. It takes co-evolution to the extreme," study lead author David Steadman, curator of ornithology at the Florida Museum of Natural History said, as quoted by the Eurekalert!.
Its disappearance is associated with the settlement of the archipelago by Polynesians about 2,850 years ago; the people who settled the archipelago had completely exterminated this species of bird within a hundred years.