Fossils of 'monster penguin' found in New Zealand

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 16 2019 12:35 AM

Scientists in New Zealand have identified a new species of giant penguin that stood 1.6 meters tall, after analyzing fossils found by an amateur paleontologist.

The Canterbury Museum, based in Christchurch, said in a statement that the bones of the "monster penguin" were found last year at the Waipara Greensand fossil site in the northeastern part of South Island.

A team which included curators from the museum analyzed them and concluded that they belonged to a previously unknown species from the Paleocene Epoch, between 56 million and 66 million years ago.

The ancient penguin, which was given the scientific name Crossvallia waiparensis, is estimated to have weighed between 70 and 80 kilograms and stood 40 centimeters taller than today's 1.2 meter emperor penguin in Antarctica.

According to the museum, it is the fifth ancient penguin species described from fossils uncovered at the fossil site, which have helped clarify scientists understanding of penguin evolution.

"It further reinforces our theory that penguins attained a giant size very early in their evolution," said curator Vanesa De Pietri.