Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:13 AM EDT

Fossil Collector Discovers Penguin Fossils Bigger Than King Penguins

Mar 01, 2017 03:46 AM EST

King penguins at Tokyo's Ueno Zoo gather together
(Photo : OSHIKAZU TSUNO/Getty Images) There were penguins bigger than today's King penguin that existed 61 million years ago called Waimanu manneringi.

An amateur fossil collector has discovered fossils of a giant penguin that lived 61 million years ago in New Zealand. It is said to be five feet tall, taller than King penguin and Waimanu.

After discovering Waimanu, scientists have thought that it is the oldest and biggest penguins to have existed. They were proven wrong when amateur fossil collector Leigh Love has discovered another giant penguin fossil. It was found in the Waipara Greensand at Waipara River, Canterbury Province, New Zealand. The Emperor penguin and the Waimanu are about four feet tall but the newly discovered penguin fossil is about one foot taller, according to Forbes. This newly discovered penguin just proved how diverse the penguin family is even before.

A team of paleontologists from Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany has analyzed the giant penguin fossils, Science News reported. The assumption that penguins were not as diverse as now is wrong. Penguins have evolved largely even early on during the pre-historic times, said team member Dr. Gerald Mayr, of the Senckenberg Research Institute. Penguins may have possibly evolved during the 'Age of Dinosaurs' and that was more than 65 million years ago, Mayr added.

The fossils have shown that the penguin's way of walking is the same as the way they are walking now. Unlike the other penguin fossils that were the same age with it, it wobbles too. Its bones are very different from other prehistoric penguins. Even though they are large, they have been wobbling too, said team member Dr. Vanesa De Pietri, from Canterbury Museum.

"The flattened and wide tarsometatarsus of the new taxon from the Waipara Greensand exhibits a much more derived morphology than the tarsometatarsus of Waimanu and clearly stems from a taxon that is situated more crownward than Waimanu in the phylogenetic tree of penguins," the researchers said.

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