Ancient ‘monster penguins’ that stood as tall as HUMANS terrorised USA 40million years ago
HUGE “monster penguins” thought to have lived in New Zealand 62 million years ago had doppelgängers roaming the US.
This is according to a new study, which also found evidence of the giant penguin-like creatures in Japan and Canada.
Scientists compared fossilised bones from New Zealand and the remains they found of younger Northern Hemisphere birds, scientifically referred to as plotopterids.
Paul Scofield, a Canterbury Museum curator in New Zealand, said: “These birds evolved in different hemispheres, millions of years apart, but from a distance you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart.
“Plotopterids looked like penguins, they swam like penguins, they probably ate like penguins — but they weren’t penguins.”
Remains of the earliest known penguins, some of which were a whopping 5-feet-tall, were found in Waipara, North Canterbury in modern day New Zealand.
Plotopterids would have looked extremely similar to the “monster penguins”[/caption]
Scientists think these ancient penguins thrived in the tropical seas that once surrounded that location.
Plotopterids are thought to have lived at the later date of 37 to 34 million years ago.
The fact the ancient birds were so similar despite living miles and millions of years apart has really drawn scientists to this research.
Both types of bird had long beaks with nostril slits.
The remains of huge ancient penguins were previously found in New Zealand[/caption]
They also had similar wings, chest and shoulder bones.
Vanessa De Pietri, another curator at Canterbury Museum, said: “What’s remarkable about all this is that plotopterids and ancient penguins evolved these shared features independently.
“This is an example of what we call convergent evolution, when distantly related organisms develop similar morphological traits under similar environmental conditions.”
Although the plotopterids would have looked very similar to the giant penguins, deeper analysis has shown they were actually more closely related to the modern day birds gannets and cormorants.
This study has been published in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research.
Fossils of New Zealand’s giant penguins are currently on display at Canterbury Museum.
Giant animals that once roamed the Earth
Here’s some scarily large extinct creatures…
- Megalodon sharks – these giant sharks were three times as long as great whites, which are usually 3.5-6.4 metres, and 30 times as heavy
- Megalodons are thought to have lived around 15.9 to 2.6million years ago and had over 200 huge teeth
- Titanoboa cerrejonensis – this extinct giant snake species would have lived around 60million years ago and was twice as long as the largest modern day snake and weighed more than a tonne
- Terror birds – formally known as Phorusrhacids, this group of flightless birds from around 60 to 2million years ago would have been three metres tall and could have swallowed a medium sized dog in one gulp
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In other news, a photo of a creature swimming in Loch Ness has sparked fresh debate on whether a monster roams its waters.
Fossilised footprints found in South Korea have been attributed to an ancient 13 foot crocodile that walked on two legs.
And, a skeleton of a 300,000-year-old elephant with giant tusks has been unearthed in Germany.
What do you make of these penguin-like creatures? Let us know in the comments…
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