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Researchers have discovered a “missing link” of penguin fossils that suggest that the huge bird gave up flying and took to the seas after the dinosaurs were extinct by a giant asteroid.
The newly discovered species, known as the Kupoupou stilwelli, was first discovered on the Chatham Island, New Zealand. It was approximately 3 feet, 7 inches tall, similar in size to today’s king penguin and can be walked in addition to have recently discovered a giant penguin that stood almost 5 feet and weigh up to 176 pounds.
“In addition to the huge, man-sized cousins, nieces, nephews, including the most recently described specimen of penguin Crossvallia waiparensis, Kupoupou it was a relatively small – no larger than a modern King Penguin, which is just under 1.1 meters in length,” said Flinders University, doctoral study the candidate and to the University of Canterbury graduate, Jacob, a Blanket, in a statement.
This is an example of the above-described Kupoupou stilwelli by Jacob, a Blanket, Flinders University. (Credit: Jacob, A Blanket, Flinders University)
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“Kupoupou was also shorter in the legs than some of the other early fossil birds,” Blanket added to it. In this context, it was more like the ones of today, which means that it would have waddled on to the land. This penguin is the first one that it has in modern relationships, both in terms of size, and in the hind limb, and the foot bone (the tarsometatarsus) as well as the foot shape.”
Blanket, discovered the first fossils from 2006 to 2011, after they have been collected on Chatham Island, 500 miles off the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
The study’s co-author, Paul Scofield, noted that “it is impossible” for the penguins to have lost the ability to fly, and to be given the opportunity to have a swim after a traumatic extinction event, 66 million years ago. “If we’re ever trapped inside a fossil from the Cretaceous period of time, we will know for sure,” he added.
Scofield added that the study provides additional support that the penguins have developed rapidly in the period after the dinosaurs became extinct over 60 million years ago.
“We believe that it is probable that the ancestors of the ones off of the line, which is their closest living relatives, such as albatrosses and petrels during the Late Cretaceous period, and then there’s a lot of different kinds of evolved after the dinosaurs were wiped out,” Scofield noted.
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The temperature of the waters around New Zealand at that time we were visiting, Scofield said, is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to about 46 degrees Celsius today. It would have competed for food with the “big sea turtles and coral reefs, and the odd-looking sharks,” the analyst said in an interview with the BBC.
Scofield is also responsible for the invention of the above-mentioned giant penguin, which is also known as Crossvallia waiparensis. It lived in the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 million to 56 million years ago, according to the Canterbury Museum.
The study has been published in the scientific journal Palaeontologia Electronica.
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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this report.