With a height equal to an adult, ancient penguins were discovered already in New Zealand immediately after the dinosaur extinction.
A sketch of an ancient penguin of giant size.
The newly discovered ancient penguin is about 1.6 meters tall or about the height of an adult woman and weighs 80kg, named Crossvallia waiparensis, living about 66 million years ago. before.
Earlier, the giant penguin was discovered Palaeeudyptes klekowskii, 37 million years old, nearly 2 meters tall and weighs 115 kg.
Amateur palaeontologist and co-researcher Leigh Love found new penguin fossil bone in Waipara town, located in Canterbury, New Zealand. This area is a hot spot of giant ancient animals.
Extinct creatures once discovered in this area include the world’s largest parrot, giant eagle, giant bat, moa (a giant bird, flightless) and five other penguin species .
"When Crossvallia is alive, New Zealand and Antarctica are very different from today - Antarctica is covered by forests and they both have a much warmer climate," said Paul Scofield, senior researcher on Self History. course at the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand.
The leg bones of Crossvallia penguins are completely different from modern penguins. Anatomical studies show that Crossvalia uses more legs when swimming than modern penguins or ancient birds that have not adapted to standing upright, like today’s penguins.
Meanwhile, Daniel Ksepka, curator of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, who was not involved in the study, said: "In general, the bigger an animal, the more effective it is to protect its body temperature. (very important in penguins) and dive deeper and for longer periods. Large sizes also open new prey options and protect them from smaller predators. "
So why are today’s penguins smaller? It is not entirely clear, but competition, change in prey and territory can partly explain why penguins are no longer the giant species they once had.