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Giant Penguin Fossils Found In Antarctica

Giant Penguin Fossils Found In Antarctica

Researchers from Argentina have uncovered the fossilized remains of a giant penguin that lived in Antarctica 34 million years ago.

Paleontologists from the Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata Province, where Buenos Aires is located, made their discovery at the start of a summer expedition to Antarctica.  Apparently the fossils indicate that this flightless bird stood taller than most people, at around 6 feet 5 inches.

Wow! Imagine looking up to see a penguin staring down at you!

From Rawstory:

“This is the largest penguin known to date in terms of height and body mass,” said researcher Carolina Acosta, who noted that the record had been held by emperor penguins, which reach heights of 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall.

Lead researcher Marcelo Reguero added that the find, announced Tuesday, will “allow for a more intensive and complex study of the ancestors of modern penguins.”

The team of researchers plans to return to the same location during Antarctica’s next summer to search for more fossils from this newly discovered species, in addition to studying its anatomy, how it might have moved around and what color plumage it might have sported. Past studies have revealed reddish brown and grey coloring, unlike the black and white of today’s penguins.

The scientists from the Natural Sciences Museum believe that the fossils date from the Oligene Epoch (about thirty-four million years ago), when the world was warmer than it is today. Antarctica was surrounded by water, but times were changing so that, for the first time in hundreds of millions of years, ice sheets began to form.  Eventually the permanent ice that we see today covered the South Pole.

This is the second major discovery related to penguins this year.

From Everything Dinosaur:

Earlier this year, scientists from the Ashoro Museum of Palaeontology (Japan) uncovered the fossils of two new species of prehistoric penguin from the Waitaki region of New Zealand.  One of these species Kairuku grebneffi, was estimated to have stood nearly five feet tall (1.5 metres) and may have weighed as much as 130 lbs (60 kilogrammes).  At the time of this discovery, this species was declared the largest known in the fossil record, but this new discovery from Antarctica indicates an even larger prehistoric flightless bird.

Last summer, Care2′s Cathryn Wellner reported on the decline of at least 13 species of penguins, including two species of Antarctic penguins: the Emperor and the Chinstrap.

With these new discoveries, perhaps paleontologists will gain invaluable information about penguins that may help to protect them in the future.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Coming Soon: A World Without Penguins

Abandoned Penguin Chick Fed By Penguin Puppet (Video)

Penguin Species In Danger Of Extinction

 

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Photo Credit: thinkstock

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79 comments

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4:36PM PST on Feb 27, 2013

pretty awesome :)

8:56PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Maybe they were gmo penguins

3:12PM PST on Dec 13, 2012

great news, thanks for sharing :)

8:34AM PST on Dec 6, 2012

it doesn't surprise me that penguins were larger back then. i hope that any knowledge gain helps the current penguin population but i don't think that will happen. the earth's current health is much different.

10:37PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Not terribly shocking that they used to be much bigger. Apparently, Antarctica was not mostly covered in snow and ice back then. Food was probably a whole lot more plentiful. Still an extraordinary find is an extraordinary find, and data giving or confirming insight into ecology is vital for any reliable understanding. I'm glad to see it. Thank you.

5:11AM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Thanks. Very interesting.

12:20AM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Thanks

10:43PM PST on Dec 2, 2012

Interesting,,,,,,

9:42PM PST on Dec 2, 2012

thanks

9:13PM PST on Dec 2, 2012

Maybe they could revamp "Happy Feet", the movie, using these gigantic penguins and the various animals of that time period!

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