General, Research, Technology

A new species of ancient penguins was discovered, which was as similar as possible to modern

Regular readers of our site are already greatknow that the ancestors of modern penguins were growth from an adult and were excellent swimmers. At least, we were convinced of this thanks to the discovery in 2018 of the remains of a relatively large penguin by today's standards near the New Zealand city of Waypara. However, about 60 million years ago, other flightless sea birds lived on our planet, and they were even more similar to modern ones. They were divided into several types, and one of them was discovered recently, after studying mysterious remains discovered back in 2003.

Ancient penguins of the species Kupoupou stilwelli

The new discovery of paleontologists was described atpages of The Conversation. According to the source, the bones of an ancient penguin species were discovered in 2003 by a paleontologist named Jeffrey Steelwell. They were excavated in the Chatham Islands, located near New Zealand. Despite the very long-standing discovery of the skeleton, a new penguin species was only recently recognized, based on the found bones of wings and legs. A new variety of ancient birds was called Kupoupou stilwelli, where the word “kupoupou” is translated from the language of the locals as “a diving bird”, and the prefix “stilwelli” is given in honor of the man who found the remains of Jeffrey Stillwell.

The youngest ancestor of penguins

According to researchers, the ancient penguin wasvery large, but certainly not gigantic. Most likely, most individuals of this species of birds were growth from king penguins, whose growth is about 1 meter, and body weight reaches 17 kilograms. Their wings were not as wide and rigid as those of modern Antarctic birds, but they still had sufficient strength and density for swimming under water.

Kupoupou stilwelli penguins by artist Jacob Blockland

Legs of ancient penguins of the species Kupoupou stilwellipractically did not differ from the extremities of modern individuals. Researchers believe that thanks to their short legs, they could control the direction of swimming and gain fairly high speed. Thus, the new species is, if not quite an ancestor, then at least a very close relative of today's penguins.

It is interesting: The remains of the oldest bird in the world are found. What can they talk about?

The new discovery was evidence thatancient penguins evolved quite quickly from the time of the mass extinction of the dinosaurs that destroyed it. The only dinosaurs that survived at that time were perhaps the ancestors of today's birds. However, it is worthwhile to understand that the penguins found are not animals that have survived since the time of the dinosaurs.

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Almost all types except the so-calledCrossvallia unienwillia inhabited the territory of modern New Zealand. Since most of the remains were found on this land, at the moment, paleontologists are sure that penguins appeared in this region and nowhere else. In general, New Zealand is considered the birthplace of many unusual birds, you can read more about this in our special material.