Saturday , August 17 2019
Home / World News / Monster penguin fossils found in New Zealand

Monster penguin fossils found in New Zealand

The discovery of the new penguin species is the fifth ancient penguin species uncovered at the Waipara Greensand site.

Canterbury Museum curators Dr Paul Scofield and Dr Vanesa De Pietri analysed the bones with the help of Dr Gerald Mayr of Senckenberg of the Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

They concluded they belonged to a previously unknown penguin species, Crossvallia waiparensis, a monster penguin from the Paleocene Epoch, dating back between 66 and 56 million years.

Canterbury Museum curators Dr Paul Scofield and Dr Vanesa De Pietri, and Dr Gerald Mayr of Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, analysed the bones.

Canterbury Museum curators Dr Paul Scofield and Dr Vanesa De Pietri, and Dr Gerald Mayr of Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, analysed the bones.

Mayr said the Waipara Greensand was arguably the world’s most significant site for penguin fossils from that time.

“The fossils discovered there have made our understanding of penguin evolution a whole lot clearer.

“There’s more to come, too – more fossils which we think represent new species are still awaiting description.”

Loading

The discovery adds to the list of gigantic, but extinct, New Zealand fauna, including the world’s largest parrot, a giant eagle, giant burrowing bat, the moa and other giant penguins.

De Pietri said discovering a second giant penguin from the Paleocene Epoch was further evidence early penguins were huge.

“It further reinforces our theory that penguins attained a giant size very early in their evolution.”

Scofield said finding closely related birds in New Zealand and Antarctica showed the country’s close connection to the icy continent.

“When the Crossvallia species were alive, New Zealand and Antarctica were very different from today – Antarctica was covered in forest and both had much warmer climates.”

Weighing in at 70 to 80kg, Crossvallia waiparensis is larger than the Emperor penguin, which stands at 1.2 metres tall. The leg bones also suggest their feet played a greater role in swimming than those of modern penguins, or that they had not yet adapted to standing upright.

The fossils of several giant species, including C. waiparensis, will be displayed in a new exhibition about prehistoric New Zealand at Canterbury Museum later this year.

Stuff.co.nz

Most Viewed in World

Loading

About admin

Check Also

New Zealand man charged for the campervan killing of Australian Sean McKinnon

New Zealand police have arrested a man over the killing of Victorian man Sean McKinnon, …