Kairuku Comes Alive
The full skeleton of an ancient penguin that roamed New Zealand 25 million years ago has been reconstructed by experts from the University of Otago and North Carolina State University. Standing about 1.3m tall, the penguin would have been taller than today’s tallest living penguin species, the emperor penguin, which can reach 1.2m tall. For decades, University of Otago study co-author paleontologist Ewan Fordyce had been happening across bones of the species while searching for fossil whales and dolphins. The result is “quite a streamlined animal — it wouldn’t look like any penguin that’s alive today,” said study leader Dan Ksepka, an avian paleontologist at North Carolina State University. Instead of a modern penguin’s rotund shape, the penguin had a narrow chest; long, tapering flippers; and a narrow beak — a body specialized for hunting fish. The scientists have dubbed the penguin Kairuku — Maori for “diver who returns with food”.