Giant penguin fossils found in Antarctica

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Argentine experts have discovered the fossils of a two-metre-tall penguin that lived in Antarctica 34 million years ago.

Giant penguin fossils found in Antarctica
A giant penguin called a Kairuku. It’s taken 26 million years, but scientists say getting the first glimpse at what a long-extinct giant penguin looked like was worth the wait [Credit: University of Otago]

Paleontologists with the Natural Sciences Museum of La Plata pro vince, where the capital Buenos Aires is located, said the remains were found on the icy southern continent.

“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 metres 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.”

In its next expedition to Antarctica, during the region’s summer, the team will seek additional fossils of the newly discovered species, as well as information about its anatomy and how the giant penguin might have moved.

Previous finds from prehistoric penguins indicated they did not sport the iconic black and white feathers the birds are known for today, but had reddish-brown and grey plumage.

Source: AFP [November 21, 2012]

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