Two Prehistoric Penguins Added to Our Aviary

New Zealand has been a haven for earthbound birds for aeons. The absence of terrestrial predators allowed flightless parrots, kiwis and moas to thrive. Now researchers are adding two prehistoric penguins to this grounded aviary, Jack Tamisiea reports for The New York Times.

One species is a beefy behemoth that waddled along the New Zealand coastline nearly 60 million years ago. At almost 160kg, it weighed as much as an adult gorilla and is the heaviest penguin known to science.

Alan Tennyson, a palaeontologist at Te Papa, identified the fossilised remains of two large penguins on the beach known for its large, cannonball-shaped concretions, the Moeraki Boulders, Tamisiea writes.

The researchers described the ancient birds in the Journal of Paleontology. They named the larger penguin Kumimanu (a mash-up of the te Reo words for “monster” and “bird”) fordycei and named the smaller penguin Petradyptes (“rock diver”) stonehousei.

Original article by Jack Tamisiea, The New York Times, February 8, 2023.

Illustration by Simone Giovanardi.

Tags: Alan Tennyson  Kumimanu  New York Times (The)  palaeontology  Penguins  

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