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The giant malleefowl (Leipoa gallinacea) is an extinct megapode that was native to Australia. It was described from Plio-Pleistocene deposits at the Darling Downs and Chinchilla in south-east Queensland by Charles De Vis, who erected the genus Progura for it. Material referrable to the species has also been collected from South Australia and from Wellington Valley and the Wombeyan Caves of New South Wales.

Giant malleefowl
Temporal range: Pliocene–Pleistocene
Leipoa gallinacea.jpg
Fossil remains from the Naracoote Caves
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Megapodiidae
Genus: Leipoa
L. gallinacea
Binomial name
Leipoa gallinacea
(De Vis, 1888)
  • Progura gallinacea De Vis, 1888
  • Progura naracoortensis van Tets, 1974



Comparison of Australian megapodes showed that Progura was closely related to the living malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata), though the fossil species L. gallinacea was considerably larger than the living one. A second species, P. naracoortensis, was described in 1974 by van Tets from deposits in the Naracoorte Caves of south-eastern South Australia indicating differing size and leg proportions. It is now considered a synonym of L. gallinacea, which was evidently sexually dimorphic.[1]


Its weight was estimated by van Tets to vary from 4–7 kg (8-15 lb). The proportions of the long bones were similar to, though larger and more robust than, those of the malleefowl, and it had a relatively broader bill, head and body. The deep keel on the sternum indicates that it was capable of flight.[2]


Eggs previously assigned to Genyornis are now considered to have belonged to the giant malleefowl. Therefore, data on dromornithid diet and chronology can actually be ascribed to this bird, instead.[3] It is believed that L. gallinacea buried its eggs in warm sand or soil.[4]


  1. ^ Boles, W.E. (2008). "Systematics of the fossil Australian giant megapodes Progura (Aves: Megapodiidae)". Oryctos. 7: 195–295.
  2. ^ Rich, P.V.; van Tets, G.F.; Knight, F., eds. (1985). Kadimakara: Extinct Vertebrates of Australia. Melbourne: Pioneer Design Studio. pp. 195–199. ISBN 0-909674-26-4.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ A case of mistaken identity for Australia’s extinct big bird
  4. ^ "Ancient bird like 'a kangaroo-sized flying turkey'". BBC News. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-06-15.

Further readingEdit

  • Dekker, René W. R. J. (2007). "Distribution and Speciation of Megapodes (Megapodiidae) and Subsequent Development of their Breeding". Topics in Geobiology. 29: 93–102. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6374-9_3. ISSN 0275-0120.
  • Worthy, T. H. (2000). "The fossil megapodes (Aves: Megapodiidae) of Fiji with descriptions of a new genus and two new species". Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 30 (4): 337–364. doi:10.1080/03014223.2000.9517627. ISSN 0303-6758.