Researchers mentioned on Tuesday the traditional penguin, known as Kumimanu biceae, weighed practically 225 kilos (101 kg), and was a lot larger than the most important of those flightless seabirds alive at this time, the emperor penguin, which grows to about Four-1/Four toes (1.2 meters) and about 90 kilos (40 kg).
The one historic penguin but found that may have been bigger than Kumimanu is understood solely from a leg bone, mentioned ornithologist Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Analysis Institute and Pure Historical past Museum Frankfurt.
“Gigantism in penguins advanced greater than as soon as,” Mayr mentioned.
Kumimanu, named after a creature from Maori folklore and the Maori phrase for chicken, is the second-oldest recognized penguin. The older one, additionally from New Zealand, was 61 million years previous.
Kumimanu’s partial skeleton lacks the cranium. Mayr mentioned different fossils point out that the earliest penguins possessed for much longer beaks than their trendy kin, helpful for spearing fish.
“It might have been very spectacular: as tall as many individuals, and a really strong, muscly animal constructed to face up to frequent deep dives to catch its prey,” mentioned Alan Tennyson, vertebrate curator on the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, one other of the researchers within the examine printed within the journal Nature Communications.
“It might not have been the type of chicken that somebody might catch alive. It might have been significantly extra highly effective than an individual.”
Kumimanu and different early penguins had already developed typical penguin options together with flipper-like wings and an upright stance. Research recommend early penguins had been brownish, not the trademark black and white of at this time’s penguins, Mayr mentioned.
Penguins are thought to have advanced from a flying ancestor maybe resembling a cormorant, Mayr mentioned. The asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs 66 million years in the past additionally eradicated the massive marine reptiles that dominated the seas, clearing the best way for fish-eating divers like penguins.
Kumimanu lived lengthy earlier than Antarctica’s glaciation. On the time, New Zealand and Antarctica had been subtropical.
“It is a frequent fantasy that penguins solely dwell in very chilly environments such because the Antarctic area,” Tennyson mentioned. “Right now, Galapagos penguins dwell on the equator, and lots of fossils present that early types of penguins lived in heat seas.”
(Reporting by Will DunhamEditing by Sandra Maler)
© Thomson Reuters 2017
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