Fossil records present big human-sized penguins flew by means of Southern Hemisphere waters—alongside side smaller forms, similar in size to some species that live in Antarctica today.
Now the newly described Kupoupou stilwelli has been discovered on the geographically remote Chatham Islands within the southern Pacific close to New Zealand’s South Island. It seems to be the oldest penguin recognized with proportions near its modern relatives.
It lived between 62.5 million and 60 million years in the past at a time when there was no ice cap on the South Pole, and the seas around New Zealand have been tropical or subtropical.
Flinders University Ph.D. paleontology candidate and University of Canterbury graduate Jacob Blokland made the invention after finding out fossil skeletons collected from Chatham Island between 2006 and 2011.
As published within the US journal Palaeontologica Electronica, the animal’s scientific name acknowledges the Indigenous Moriori people of the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu), with Kupoupou that means ‘diving bird’ in Te Re Moriori.
The invention could even link the origins of penguins themselves to the eastern region of New Zealand—from the Chatham Island archipelago to the eastern coast of the South Island, the place different most ancient penguin fossils have been discovered, 800km away.
University of Canterbury adjunct Professor Scofield, Senior Curator of Natural History on the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, says the paper offers additional help for the idea that penguins quickly evolved shortly after the interval when dinosaurs nonetheless walked the land, and large marine reptiles swam within the sea. It isn’t impossible that penguins lost the ability to fly and gained the flexibility to swim after the extinction occasion of 66 million years ago, implying the birds underwent huge modifications in a very short time.