Scientists have discovered that fossils act like a missing link in the evolution of penguins, after they evolved from dinosaurs.
Five skeletons have been found on the Chatham Islands near the South Island of New Zealand. The fossil was found in a remote area during excavations from 2006 to 2011.
Fossils belong to a newly discovered species Kupoupou stilwelli , the oldest known penguin species. Their name is derived from the native Moriori language on the Chatham Islands, Kupoupou means "diving bird , " and stilwelli is named after the discoverer of this species Jeffrey Stilwell - paleontologist at Monash University.
These ancient birds swim best underwater.
These penguins lived 60 to 62.5 million years ago, after the dinosaur extinction event 65 million years ago. The oceans were tropical and subtropical, with no frost in the far south.
A detailed analysis of fossils was published Monday in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.
"Besides its huge size cousins, including the recently described monster penguin Crossvallia waiparensis , Kupoupou stilwelli is relatively small - no bigger than the modern Emperor penguin, only less than 1.1m, " said researcher Jacob Blokland. "Kupoupou also has short legs similar to some other penguins. So it has a waddling gait like modern descendants."
Like modern penguins, this ancient bird swims under the best water . It is also the first penguin to be found similar in both the hind legs and foot shape with modern penguins, Blokland said.
Ancient fossils of penguins have been found on the east coast of the South Island. The discovery led researchers to question the link between penguins on the South Island and the Chatham Islands.
"We think it is possible that penguins' ancestors were separated from their lineage leading to their closest relatives - such as seagulls, in the late Cretaceous period and then many different species appeared. after the dinosaurs were wiped out, " said Paul Scofield, research author and professor at Flinder University.
Earlier this year, fossils of the "monster penguin" Crossvallia waiparensis were found in Waipara, near the city of Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand. It is over 1.5 meters tall, weighs more than ordinary people and lived from 56 million to 66 million years ago.
Recent discoveries have also uncovered other great creatures that once lived in New Zealand, including the world's largest parrot, large flightless moa, eagle and giant bat.