Giant Prehistoric Penguin Once Inhabited New Zealand

Posted on August 16, 2019

Giant penguin Crossvallia waiparensis

Scientists have discovered fossils of a monster penguin species that once inhabited New Zealand during the Paleocene Epoch (between 66 and 56 million years ago). The fossils were found in Waipara, North Canterbury. The new follows the recent discovery of an extinct giant parrot in New Zealand.

The extinct giant penguin has been named Crossvallia waiparensis. It stood about 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) tall and weighed up to 80 kg (176 pounds). Today's largest penguin - the Emperor Penguin - stands up to 1.2 meters tall.

Several leg bone fossils were analzyed by a team including Canterbury Museum curators Dr. Paul Scofield and Dr. Vanesa De Pietri, and Dr. Gerald Mayr of Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. A research paper about the penguin was published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

Dr. Scofield says in the announcement, "When the Crossvallia species were alive, New Zealand and Antarctica were very different from today - Antarctica was covered in forest and both had much warmer climates." Dr. Vanesa De Pietri says the find "further reinforces our theory that penguins attained a giant size very early in their evolution."

Image: Canterbury Museum CC BY NC