Australia has parrots instead of monkeys

This new book details the evidence for the remarkable intelligence of birds. Among birds, the parrot and crow families are considered especially clever.


There are no monkeys or apes east of Wallace’s Line, which runs through the Indonesian archipelago. That means there are no primates in Australia.

I have sometimes wondered if Australia  (which has classically been called The Land of Parrots) has parrots filling the niches that might be filled by monkeys on other continents.

Parrots are like monkeys in being intelligent, often social, creatures that frequently eat fruit and nuts and are able to manipulate and bite into hard food.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 4, 2016 at 7:57 am

    “Bird brains? No, parrots are just as bright as apes! Birds found to have more brain cells despite organ being much smaller.”


  2. Posted by James H on October 4, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    It would certainly explain the wide variety of parrots in Australasia. In southern Africa, there are only a handful (I think <5) species of parrot, all restricted to riparian forest and/or the temperate rainforest along the south coast of S Africa. They're all small, and have bills smaller than the usual large, curved shape (prob. because they have a diet wider than those in other places).

    A similar substitution may be bears and baboons. N America doesn't have baboons, but their role as semi-arboreal omnivore is occupied by bears, and racoons. I think a troop of baboons might even weigh as much as a bear and cubs.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 4, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks for the interesting comment. Food for thought.

      Fifty seems a typical number of individuals in a baboon troop, so I imagine it would be more than comparable with a bear and cubs.


      • Posted by fuzziewuzziebear on October 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

        Fewer individuals does create a problem for the viability of the species. Bears were hunted to extinction in Mexico but are being reintroduced.
        While you may not have monkeys you do have koala bears and they are much more civilized, even if they are not technically bears.

      • Posted by Julian O'Dea on October 5, 2016 at 2:47 am

        Koalas are folivores that subsist on a fairly restricted diet of gumleaves. They are a bit like sloths ecologically.

        You are correct that they are not true bears. They are marsupials.

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