The size of extinct penguins is revealed through a new analysis of fossils. Scientists in New Zealand claim to have uncovered the bones of a previously unknown species of penguin that stood over six feet tall, making this “monster bird” the biggest penguin to ever live, to the best of our knowledge.
The species was discovered by researchers and given the name Kumimanu fordycei. It existed between 55 and 60 million years ago. An early height estimate put the gigantic bird at 3.50 ft (1.06 m) from researchers. After re-examining the skeleton, however, scientists determined that the bird was really 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) tall and weighed as much as 350 pounds (158 kilograms).
This finding is monumental for more reasons than one, since Emperor Penguins, the biggest surviving species of penguin, may grow to be as tall as 4.1 feet (1.25 meters) and weigh as much as 90 pounds (41 kilograms).
The fossilized remains of the monstrous bird were reportedly discovered in two separate places on the South Island of New Zealand. Many bird bones were discovered in one location, leading scientists to conclude that this was a breeding ground for the extinct species. They consider the Kumimanu fordycei to be one of the earliest penguin species. The enormous bird’s specific diet is a mystery, but scientists think it consisted of local marine animals like huge fish and squid.
The study was reported in the Journal of Paleontology by the researchers. The research provides new information on penguin evolution and diversity, suggesting that these gigantic birds previously occupied a considerably broader area and displayed more variation than is now the case. Paleontologists may get insight about penguin adaptations to climate change and the role they played in the ancient Southern Hemisphere ecosystem thanks to the finding of these gigantic birds.
It’s not the first time researchers have uncovered proof that huge birds once inhabited our planet. Further, it sheds light on the history of these organisms and their distribution throughout Earth.
Although Kumimanu fordycei is no longer with us, its finding has sparked new inquiries on the origins of the penguin and its role in the prehistoric food web. While we wait, maybe we can learn more about penguins from the world’s biggest colony ever observed.
Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.