A team of researchers has identified a new ancient penguin species by analyzing fossils which were unearthed in North Canterbury, in New Zealand. The fossils were traced back to an interval which ranges between 66 and 56 million years ago in the Paleocene epoch.
With an average height of 1.6 meters (or 5.2 feet) the new penguin species, which has been classified under the scientific name of Crossvallia waiparensis, is a member of an exotic club of huge animals known as megafauna. Among them, we can count the moa, the giant parrot, and the giant burrowing bat.
The researchers observed and analyzed fossils found in the marine deposits of the Waipara Greensand site. This is not the first giant species to be uncovered as four of other species of giant penguins have been discovered at the same location. The first discovery took place almost 30 years ago, making the site a valuable asset which plays an essential role in learning more about the evolutions of penguins.
New Ancient Penguin Species Found By Researchers
According to one of the researchers who contributed to the study, the fossils offered valuable information, and new ones could likely be uncovered in the future. Several fossils are being analyzed, and it is thought that some of them could be linked to a new species.
The recent discoveries bring the total number of giant penguins to five. A bone tissue analysis infers that C waiparensis could be related to Crossvalia unienwillia, another species of giant species which was alive within the same timeframe. Both species share unique feet, a trait which infers that swimming was more important to them in comparison to modern penguins.
Some argue that the feet prove that they weren’t able to stand upright like their contemporary relatives. The new data will bridge essential gaps in the evolutionary lineage of ancient penguin species, especially if we take into account the fact that the size of penguins varies according to the region where they live. The study was published in a scientific journal.