Giant Penguin fossil found by school kids in New Zealand gets classified: Study

A group of school kids in New Zealand’s beach found fossils of a unique species of giant penguins in 2006. After a clear inspection, the children could understand that they discovered a gigantic fossil covered in sandstone. The children identified it as fossilized remains of the penguin’s torso, arms, and legs.

The scientists from Massey University in New Zealand examined the children’s find and finally revealed the skeleton belonged to a species previously unknown to humans. They said that the skeleton of the bird has been recognized as a new species of huge penguin that lived 30 million years ago and was 4.5 feet tall.

The penguin was found to be similar to the group of Kairuku giant penguins first described from Otago but has much longer legs. These long legs must have made these penguins taller than other penguins, say scientists. The scientists thoroughly examined the species and compared the holographic model of the penguin with that of other species in the world and identified that the species are lived between 27.3 to 34.6 million years ago.

Dr. Daniel Thomas, a senior lecturer in zoology from Massey’s School of Natural and Computational Sciences, said, “The longer legs would have made the penguin much taller than other Kairuku while it was walking on land and it may be around 1.4 meters tall and may have influenced how fast it could swim or how deep it could dive.”

After a detailed study, the paper was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology. Meanwhile, Penguin fossils are almost as old as dinosaur fossils, with many of the earliest specimens coming from New Zealand. The Palaeontologists now have a clear image of the diversity of huge penguins and their evolutionary history.