Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Large, New Zealand fossil penguin

A large extinct penguin has been reconstructed from fossil remains discovered in New Zealand. Researchers used bones from two separate examples of the ancient birds, using the skeleton of a modern king penguin as a guide. They show the 25 million-year-old Kairuku penguin was tall at 1.2m (4ft 2in), with an elongated beak and large flippers. The reconstruction shows that the Kairuku penguin was easily the largest of the five species that were common to New Zealand during the Oligocene time period.
Twenty-five million years ago, New Zealand was an attractive location for penguins because it offered both food and safety. Most of the present day country was underwater at that time, leaving isolated, rocky land masses that protected the penguins from potential predators and provided them with a plentiful food supply.
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