Little St Bathans parrot

Nelepsittacus minimus Worthy, Tennyson & Scofield, 2011

Order: Psittaciformes

Family: Strigopidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

Other names: Little Saint Bathans parrot

 
 
Little St Bathans parrot. Holotype (left tarsometatarsus), S.052404, Te Papa. St Bathans. Image © Te Papa

Little St Bathans parrot. Holotype (left tarsometatarsus), S.052404, Te Papa. St Bathans. Image © Te Papa

The little St Bathans parrot is the smallest of three congeneric parrot species described from the 19-16 million-year-old St Bathans Fauna from central Otago. Nelepsittacus is placed in the endemic family Strigopidae (kakapo, kaka, kea), and is considered closest to the genus Nestor (kaka and kea). The little St Bathans parrot was similar in size to a kakariki (Cyanoramphus parakeet).

The little St Bathans parrot was described from 17 bones recovered from 19-16 million-year-old (Early Miocene) lake-bed deposits near the Manuherikia River, St Bathans, central Otago. The holotype (NMNZ S.52404, an almost complete left tarsometatarsus), paratypes (NMNZ S.50842 and S.50843) and all associated material are held at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The genus name denotes these Miocene fossil parrots as being on the ancestral lineage of Nestor (kaka and kea). The name is derived from Greek mythology, where Neleus was the father of Nestor, combined with psittakos (Greek for parrot). The species name reflects this being the smallest member of the genus.

The St Bathans fossil parrots confirmed the presence of the endemic family Strigopidae in New Zealand for at least 16 million years. The lineage leading to kakapo had apparently already diverged before this date, although bones referable to a kakapo ancestor have yet to be identified from the St Bathans Fauna.

Weblinks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelepsittacus

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/fossils/6/1

References

Worthy, T.H.; Tennyson, A.J.D.; Scofield, R.P. 2011. An Early Miocene diversity of parrots (Aves, Strigopidae, Nestorinae) from New Zealand. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31: 1102-1116.

Recommended citation

Miskelly, C.M. 2013. Little St Bathans parrot. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Little St Bathans parrot

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