Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.49 14 Aug 2019


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Researchers in New Zealand have discovered fossils of a giant, human-sized penguin.

Fossils found in found in Waipara, North Canterbury have pointed to the existence of Crossvallia waiparensis - a species of penguin which was around 1.6 metres tall.

It's believed to be one of the oldest known penguin species, with the species in question having lived between 56 and 66 million years ago.

Individuals are thought to have weighed around 70-80 kg, and stood around 400cm taller than the modern Emperor Penguin.

The fossils were discovered in 2018, and subsequently analysed by researchers from Canterbury Museum in New Zealand and Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Germany.

Crossvallia waiparensis is also thought to have been a close relative of a different species identified through a fossilised partial skeleton found in Antarctica in 2000.

Dr Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg museum said the site where the fossils were found in New Zealand is one of the world's most significant for penguin fossils.

He explained: "The fossils discovered there have made our understanding of penguin evolution a whole lot clearer.

"There’s more to come, too - more fossils which we think represent new species are still awaiting description."

The penguin is the latest addition to a list of large but extinct animals that used to live in New Zealand.

Only last week researchers revealed details of an extinct giant parrot twice the size of what was previously the largest known parrot.

Main image via Canterbury Museum

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