A giant penguin that stood as tall as a person has been identified from fossil leg bones discovered by an amateur palaeontologist on New Zealand’s South Island.
At 1.6 metres and 80kg (12st), the new species, Crossvallia waiparensis, was four times as heavy and 40cm taller than the emperor penguin, the largest living penguin.
The penguin joins other oversized but extinct New Zealand birds including the world’s largest parrot, an eagle with a three-metre wingspan, 3.6 metre-tall moa birds and other giant penguins.
Enormous penguins are believed to have rapidly evolved in the Palaeocene epoch – between 66 and 56m years ago – after the dinosaurs disappeared and large marine reptiles also vanished from southern hemisphere waters that were much warmer than today.
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