Fossils show giant penguin

2012-02-28 11:27
Wellington - Fossilised remains of one of the largest penguins ever, an "elegant" giant standing 1.3m tall, have been found in New Zealand, scientists said on Tuesday.

The penguin lived 27 - 24 million years ago, when New Zealand was mostly underwater and consisted of isolated, rocky outcrops that offered protection from predators and plentiful food supplies, researchers said.

The first traces of the penguin, dubbed Kairuku - Maori for diver who returns with food - was found embedded in a cliff at Waimate in the South Island by University of Otago paleontologist professor Ewen Fordyce in 1977.

Over the years, Fordyce discovered more complete remains and invited University of North Carolina specialist Dan Ksepka to help reconstruct the lost giant in 2009.

They determined the bird was much larger than the biggest modern penguin, the Emperor, which grows up to 1m, and weighed in at 60kg, twice as much as the Emperor.

"Kairuku was an elegant bird by penguin standards, with a slender body and long flippers, but short, thick legs and feet," Ksepka said.

Fordyce said the bird's large size was an adaption that allowed it to swim further and dive deeper than its modern-day counterparts.

He was unsure why it became extinct, suggesting climate change or increased predation from dolphins and seals as possible reasons for its demise.

The findings were published in the latest edition of the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology.

In 2010, scientists reported finding a fossilised specimen from 36 million years ago estimated to have been 1.5m tall.
Read more on:    palaeontology  |  marine life

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
17 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.