If you thought emperor penguins were big, this prehistoric cousin put them to shame. In its day it stood over 1.2m tall and was 50 per cent heavier than the already pretty massive emperor we know today.
Researchers from New Zealand have reconstructed the 26 million year old fossilised skeleton, revealing a penguin unlike any other, alive or dead, reports The Guardian. Not only is it the tallest penguin to have lived, it also has peculiarly long wings, a slender frame and a spear-like bill.
If it sounds like the Ultimate Penguin, that’s probably because it is. Speaking to The Guardian, Professor Ewan Fordyce explained that it’s elongated bill may have been better for catching swift prey, and its large body size probably helped it swim longer distances and dive deeper than modern-day penguins. It would have been 4’2″ (127cm) tall, and weighed over 58kg.
The scientists can’t exactly explain the species’ extinction, but put it down to climate change, the arrival of new predators, or increased competition for food from seals and other creatures. [The Guardian]
Image: Gabriel Aguirre/AP