2m penguin fossil found in Antarctica

2014-08-11 11:01
Screen grab of a giant penguin. (YouTube)

Screen grab of a giant penguin. (YouTube)

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Antarctica - Argentine palaeontologists have uncovered the largest penguin fossils ever found. Discovered on the Antarctic Peninsula, the bird, dubbed 'Colossus', would have stood two metres tall, from the tip of its beak to its toes.

The Colossus is believed to be the largest penguin to have walked the earth.

Bones found this year on Seymour island, off Antarctica, suggest the prehistoric bird stood two metres high, from the tip of its beak to its toes.

Palaeontologist Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche said that while experts knew giant penguins had existed, bones from Colossus's wing and foot suggest it was larger than anyone had expected.

Palaeontologist Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche said, "What they have in particular and which is striking is the size because even though we already knew that there were giant penguins in Antarctica, these bones are really much larger than any other bones we knew of from penguin fossils."

Colossus weighed around 115kg, double an average emperor penguin, the biggest of all its living descendants.

It was also 0.4m taller than the emperor. Living more than 30 million years ago, when the region was warmer, it was one of many breeds of penguin, on the island.

"They're not the only penguins that lived between 34 and 37 million years ago, which is the age of these remains, but we also know that between 10 to 14 species, depending on differing opinions, existed on the shores of Antarctica", said Hospitaleche.

Modern-day penguins enjoy a dip, but their swimming skills don't compare to Colossus, say the team, from Argentina's Museum of Natural Science.

Underwater swims lasting 40 minutes wouldn't have been uncommon for the ancient bird, a Colossus in many ways.

Read more on:    antarctica  |  research  |  palaeontology  |  animals

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