The oldest fossilized big penguin

Scientists have discovered what they assume might be the earliest stays of a penguin ever discovered.

Together with colleagues from New Zealand, Senckenberg scientist Dr. Gerald Mayr described a just lately found fossil of an enormous penguin with a physique size of round one hundred fifty centimeters. The new discover dates again to the Paleocene period and, with an age of approx. 

sixty one million years, counts among the many oldest penguin fossils on the planet. The bones differ considerably from these of different discoveries of the identical age and point out that the range of Paleocene penguins was greater than beforehand assumed. In their research, revealed within the Springer scientific journal The Science of Nature, the group of scientists subsequently postulates that the evolution of penguins began a lot sooner than beforehand thought, in all probability already in the course of the age of dinosaurs.

The fossil websites alongside the Waipara River in New Zealand’s Canterbury area are well-known for his or her avian fossils, which have been embedded in marine sand a mere A million years after the dinosaurs turned extinct. “Among the finds from these websites, the skeletons of Waimanu, the oldest recognized penguin thus far, are of specific significance,” explains Dr. Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt.


Together with colleagues from the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand, Mayr now described a newly found penguin fossil from the well-known fossil website. “What units this fossil aside are the apparent variations in comparison with the beforehand recognized penguin stays from this era of geological historical past,” explains the ornithologist from Frankfurt, and he continues, “The leg bones we examined present that in its lifetime, the newly described penguin was considerably bigger than its already described kinfolk. Moreover, it belongs to a species that’s extra intently associated to penguins from later time durations.”

According to the researchers, the newly described penguin lived about sixty one million years in the past and reached a physique size of approx. one hundred fifty centimeters — making it virtually as huge as Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi, the most important recognized fossil penguin, which lived in Antarctica round forty five to 33 million years in the past, thus being a lot youthful in geological phrases. “This exhibits that penguins reached an unlimited measurement fairly early of their evolutionary historical past, round 60 million years in the past,” provides Mayr.

In addition, the group of scientists from New Zealand and Germany assumes that the newly found penguin species additionally differed from their extra primitive kin within the genus Waimanu of their mode of locomotion: The giant penguins presumably already moved with the upright, waddling gait attribute for immediately’s penguins.

“The discoveries present that penguin variety within the early Paleocene was clearly greater than we beforehand assumed,” says Mayr, and he provides, “In flip, this variety signifies that the primary representatives of penguins already arose in the course of the age of dinosaurs, greater than sixty five million years in the past.”

The above submit is reprinted from Materials offered by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum.


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