Fossils of a giant leggy penguin have been found in New Zealand.
The first members of the family of birds were unusually large, in particular the kairuku penguins Kairuku grebneffi and the kumimanu Kumimanu biceae. They lived about 27 and 59 million years ago in New Zealand and were about 1.3 and 1.8 m tall and weighed about 60-100 kg.
The authors of the new work found the fossils of one of the closest relatives of the kairuku: he also lived about 27-30 million years ago. Scientists named the new species Kairuku waewaeroa or long-legged diver.
He was given this name because of the unusually long legs. Thanks to them, the birds were 10-15 centimeters taller than their nearest neighbors and relatives.
This penguin is similar to the giant Kairuku penguins, but has much longer legs. These longer legs made him much taller than other kairuku. When he walked overland, it is possible that his height reached 1.4 meters in height. It may have also influenced how fast he could swim or how deep he could dive.
Daniel Thomas, Massey University Doctor
The authors believe that the bird’s unusual bone structure helped it swim faster and dive deeper, as well as move more actively on land.
They noted that this look was more similar to what modern penguins look like.