W Hy the Norwegian Blue Is No Longer an Ex-Parrot; Norwegian True: How the Parrot Looked Polly Gone: John Cleese Returns the Deceased Parrot to Michael Palin's Pet Shop in the Sketch

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Byline: Andrew Levy

AS we know, it has shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choirinvisible. Its metabolic processes are history. It is demised.

But while the parrot in the celebrated Monty Python sketch is well and trulydead, those hilarious exchanges between John Cleese and Michael Palin havewinged their way into comedy immortality.

Cleese complained that the Norwegian Blue sold to him by pet shop owner Palinwas lifeless - and kept upright by being nailed to its perch. Adding to theabsurdity was the fact that parrots - being tropical birds - don't come fromScandinavia.

Or do they?

For now, in a development putting the sketch in a completely different light,it turns out that the Norwegian Blue did exist.

Dr David Waterhouse, a fossil expert and Python fan, has found that parrots notonly lived in Scandinavia 55million years ago, but probably evolved therebefore spreading into the southern hemisphere.

His discovery was based on a preserved wing bone of a previously unknownspecies, given the scientific name Mopsitta Tanta - and now nicknamed theNorwegian Blue.

The dead parrot script, voted Britain's favourite alternative comedy sketch byRadio Times readers in 2004, was written by Cleese and Graham Chapman and firstbroadcast in 1969.

As he returns the ex-parrot to Palin's pet shop, Cleese is assured it is justresting or stunned, being 'tired following a prolonged squawk' and 'pining forthe fjords'.

Cleese bangs it on the counter, trying to wake it up, screaming: 'Hello, MisterPolly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttlefish for you!' But it is definitelyexpired.

Dr Waterhouse, 29, said of Mopsitta Tanta: 'Obviously, we were dealing with abird that is bereft of life, but the tricky bit was establishing it was a parrot.'

He was studying for a PhD at the University of Dublin in 2005 when he visited amuseum in Jutland and spotted a fossilised 2in-long humerus - appropriatelyenough, the funny bone - among bird remains which had been found near anopen-cast mine. …