Monday, 4 August 2014

‘Giant penguins the size of people used to stalk the earth 37 million years ago’

Imagine a world where giant penguins the size of people strut around gobbling up fish.

Pingu and Mumble from Happy Feet would have a blast.

Well, it turns out this isn’t as unrealistic as you might think because colossal penguins once stalked a small island near Antarctica.

Newly unearthed fossils show that a species of penguin called Palaeeudyptes Klekowskii measuring 6ft 6ins high and weighing around 18 stone (115 kilos) existed around 37 to 40 million years ago.

The beast probably would have been able to dive deeper and hold its breath for 40 minutes, giving it more time to hunt.

And they may have even lived in harmony with 10 to 14 other species of penguin on the island of Seymour off the Antarctic Peninsula, which had a much warmer climate at the time.

Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche from the La Plata Museum in Argentina discovered a wing bone of the giant penguin and a record 9.1 centimetre long tarsometatarsus, which is formed by the fusion of ankle and foot bones.

This tarsometatarsus suggested the size of the penguin would have been around 6ft 6ins (2.01 metres) long from beak tip to toes.

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