Feeds

Bone-bothering boffins build GIANT penguin from fossils

Tall, thin linux geek bird roamed New Zealand 25m years ago

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Bone-bothering boffins have reconstructed a giant prehistoric penguin species from fossils that were first found in New Zealand in 1977.

Two Kairuku penguins come ashore, passing a stranded Waipatia dolphin

Artist's impression of Kairuku penguins. Credit: Chris Gaskin, Geology Museum, University of Otago

Ewan Fordyce, a palaeontologist at the island nation's University of Otago, found the ancient bones to make nearly an entire skeleton 35 years ago - and in the last few years enlisted the help of two more boffins from North Carolina State University to figure out what the huge penguin would have looked like.

New Zealand was a great place for penguins around 25 million years ago, during the Oligocene period, because most of the country was underwater leaving rocky islands scattered about where penguins could hide out from predators and forage for food.

The giant penguin, which the boffins named Kairuku after the Maori for "diver who returns with food", was one of at least five different species of penguin that lived in New Zealand at this time. The diversity of species is one of the reasons that figuring out what Kairuku looked like was difficult as well as its unique appearance.

Kairuku was more than a foot taller than the modern Emperor penguin and had a long narrow bill and narrow wing bones.

“Kairuku was an elegant bird by penguin standards, with a slender body and long flippers, but short, thick legs and feet,” Dan Ksepka of North Carolina State University said in a canned statement.

“If we had done a reconstruction by extrapolating from the length of its flippers, it would have stood over 6 feet tall. In reality, Kairuku was around 4-feet, 2 inches tall or so.”

The size and physique of Kairuku is interesting to boffins because it helps them figure out how far the birds swam.

"This species gives us a more complete picture of these giant penguins generally, and may help us to determine how great their range was during the Oligocene period," Ksepka added.

The boffins' findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.