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Human-Size Penguin Fossils Discovered in New Zealand

Human-Size Penguin Fossils Discovered in New Zealand

Friday, 15 December, 2017 - 06:15
A penguin in South Shetland Islands. (AFP / Eitan Abramovich)

A human-size penguin fossil was discovered in New Zealand. The discovery has changed the thoughts scientists had on the bird’s evolution phases. Alan Tennyson, vertebrate curator at the Museum of New Zealand found the fossil in a 55-60 million-year-old rock on the South Island beach in 2004, the German news agency reported.

However, the excavation of the incomplete bone structure from the rock had to be delayed till the required technology was provided in 2015. Based on the bones’ size, scientists estimated that the penguin would be about 1.65 meters long –like a medium-height man- and would weigh up to 100 kg. The longest penguin at present is the Emperor penguin, which is 1.1 meters long and weighs 23 kilograms.

Tennyson told Radio New Zealand that the fossil has a great global importance because it comes from a period that directly follows dinosaurs’ extinction, and shows that the giant penguins were among the first penguins to exist. "That was not really known before," he added.

"There may be a link, as giant animals such as dinosaurs, non-flying dinosaurs and wild marine animals have all died during this period over 66 million years ago," he said.

"This may had left some space that allowed other organisms like these penguins to grow and fill the empty surfaces" he said.

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