Paleontologists have discovered in the Pacific Islands of Tonga, fossil bones of very large pigeons which at length reached more than half a meter and weighed five times more than usual Cesar. A new species, dubbed Tongoenas burleyi, lived in trees and ate fruit. His disappearance, the authors of the study associated with the settlement of the archipelago of the Polynesians about 2850 years ago. As noted in an article in the journal Zootaxa, from the person affected and other local species: nine species of pigeons that inhabited the Islands of Tonga before colonization to the present, and lived only four.
Our ideas about pigeons based on urban rock doves perched, or rock doves (Columba livia), however, in the tropics these birds are much more diverse. For example, in New Guinea and the Islands of Oceania is home to about 92 species of pigeons belonging to 18 genera. Among them there are small and large, bright and modestly colored, arboreal and terrestrial species.
In the recent past in this region lived a lot of different pigeons. To survive to the present, they prevented the people settling in the Islands of the Pacific, the Melanesians, Polynesians and other peoples of the hunted birds and brought many species to extinction. The list of lost species is far from complete and continues to grow after the new paleontological and archaeological finds.
Paleontologists David Steadman (David Steadman) from the University of Florida and una Takano (Takano Oona M.) from the University of new Mexico studied bird bones collected during the excavations of the six Islands of the Pacific archipelago of Tonga in the years 1987-2001. On the basis of this material they have described a new genus and species of extinct pigeons, which was named Tongoenas burleyi.
The structural features of the feet T. burleyi is possible to reconstruct its way of life. Like a modern fruit (Ducula) and fruit pigeons (Ptilinopus), this bird lived in trees and ate fruit. However, it was much larger than the living species: the length of its body reached half a meter (without a tail), and weigh five times the weight of the rock dove. According to the authors, T. burleyi was the largest wood and one of the largest pigeons in General. Modern larger sizes reach only the crowned pigeons (Goura), from New Guinea, but they lead a terrestrial life.