A Human-Sized Penguin Once Waddled Through New Zealand
by Brigit Katz Smithsonian.com
Last week, the world was introduced to “Squawkzilla,” a hulking ancient parrot that made its home in New Zealand some 19 million years ago. Now, the country’s roster of extinct bulky birds—which includes the massive moa and the huge Haast’s eagle—has grown even larger, with the discovery of a Paleocene-era penguin that stood as tall as a human.
The ancient avian came to light thanks to an amateur palaeontologist named Leigh Love, who found the bird’s leg bones last year at the Waipara Greensand fossil site in North Canterbury. The Waipara Greensand is a hotbed for penguin remains dating back to the Paleocene, which spanned from 65.5 to 55.8 million years ago; four other Paleocene penguin species have been discovered there. But the newly unearthed fossils represent “one of the largest penguin species ever found,” Paul Scofield, co-author of a new report in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology and senior curator at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, tells the BBC.