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Medium-sized man penguins used to roam New Zealand’s east coast

A previously unknown species of prehistoric penguin walked the east coast of New Zealand about 60 million years ago, according to a discovery made by an international team of scientists.

 
 

The researchers estimate that the penguins each weighed about 220 pounds and were more than five feet tall.

“That’s about as tall as a medium-sized man,” National Public Radio quoted Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum paleontologist Gerald Mayr as saying.

“This particular specimen is one of the largest known fossil penguins.”

The new species has been named Kumimanu biceae (‘monster bird’ in Maori).

Universty of Otago paleonotologist Ewan Fordyce added: “It’s a few million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. With the giant reptiles gone, it may have opened new ecological opportunities to birds like penguins, allowing them to break through a glass ceiling of evolutionary size.

“Giant penguins were occupying the seas about 20 million years before whales entered the oceans.”

 
 

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