Archeologists have discovered a new fossil, which proves that the ancient monster penguins originating from the New Zeeland are not the only human-sized flightless birds living on our planet. The findings suggest that giant penguin-like creatures were present in the Northern Hemisphere, and their size could have been more significant than what we knew before their discovery.
The extinct group of birds is referred to as plotopterids, and apart from their appearance, they have nothing in common with penguins. The only thing that might be similar could be their usage of their flipper-like wings.
According to the researchers, the earliest penguin-like ancient animals made their way to Earth approximately 60 million years ago, somewhere in the region of today’s New Zeeland. Later on, somewhere between 37 and 34 million years ago, plotopterids appeared in the Northern Hemisphere and lived for around 10 million years before they became extinct.
Paul Scofield, a curator at the Canterbury Museum, declared that even though plotopterids lived, swam, and ate like penguins, they were not, in fact, penguins. But what were they? This question has led the archeologists to compare the remains of plotopterids to those of five representative species form three ancient penguin species.
Of course, similarities were found, but what is interesting about this research are the differences. The first thing to notice was their size. While ancient penguins measure a maximum of 1.8 feet, the plotopterids could have been bigger than 2 meters tall. As hard as it may be to imagine it, birds taller than a human was once swimming across the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere’s waters.
It is clear that there is still much work to do in order to determine the roots of this fascinating species. Fortunately, we will get to know more of what made plotopterids pass into oblivion and why did penguins manage to survive.