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Fossil Found by Kids in New Zealand Turns Out to Be From 27 Million-Year-old Giant Penguin

Ben Tubby, CC license

The remains of a giant prehistoric penguin were discovered fossilized on a New Zealand beach, delighting a group of young students and filling in the gaps in the fossil record at the same time.

The penguin would have been 1.4 meters tall, while underwater it could extend up to 1.6 meters, which would make it much larger than any diving bird alive today.

While originally searching for small crustacean fossils in Waikato, New Zealand in 2006, Hamilton’s junior naturalist club was returning to their kayaks when they crossed a beach at extremely low tide and found something that was clearly not a crustacean. Fortunately for them they were accompanied by an experienced paleontologist,

Embedded in sandstone, the specimen needed to be extracted with cement saws and gasoline powered jackhammers, after which it was donated to a local Maori museum.

TO study describing the new species of penguin, Diver on foot, Borrowing the Maori word for long legs, he explains that penguins have possibly the most complete fossil record of all bird genera, and K. waewaeroa was able to unite a group of giant penguins from New Zealand.

Diving for fish at a time when the North Island’s Waikato was largely underwater, the giant penguin lived between 34 and 27 million years ago.

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Among the queries generated by a complete fossil lineage of giant penguins from three different species of giant penguins is the question of why were there so many giant birds in New Zealand?

Haast’s Eagle, though extinct by humans, was the largest eagle to ever live, weighing up to 33 pounds and having a wingspan of ten feet.

There were nine species of the great flightless Moa bird, which could be 12 feet tall and weigh 500 pounds or more.

the world’s largest parrotHe also lived in New Zealand, which weighed twice as much as the heaviest living cockatoo and could stand up to the waist height of an adult male.

“Giant penguins like Diver on foot They are much larger than any seabird that dives today, and we know that body size can be an important factor when you think about ecology, ”said Mike Safey, president of the Hamilton Youth Naturalist Club, to Euronews. “How and why did penguins become giants and why aren’t there giants left? Well-preserved fossils like this can help us address these questions. “

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Safey was actually one of those kids who discovered the fossil 15 years ago, and said that seeing him make significant contributions to academia today was “surreal.”

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