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The ancient world left us large sizes of animals, amazing specimens. Did giant penguins really exist?
Different studies have shown that during the Paleocene epoch, that is, more than 56 million years ago, giant penguins existed. During that time, New Zealand still remained connected to Australia and also to Antarctica. There is a belief that these penguins were so large because marine reptiles disappeared from the oceans. It was commonly called “monster penguin” since it was the size of a human.
Physical characteristics of giant penguins
The giant penguin could grow to be 1.6 meters tall and weigh up to 80 kg. The researchers were able to discover, through the bones found in the penguin’s lower extremities, that these animals played an important role in their ability to swim.
This ancient species of penguins had longer beaks than those we know today, and it is believed that they put it to great use when catching fish . Giant penguins had fins and probably sat upright like the modern species. Regarding their colour, it is believed that they were not black and white as they are today, but that they had brown feathers.
Scientists believe that penguins descended from cormorants, a group of waterbirds that persist today , and that later evolved and spread. The asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs and marine reptiles gave way to diving birds like cormorants and penguins.
Its origin and disappearance
The monster penguin story is really interesting. This species would have shared its habitat with others from that time such as the shark, turtles and seabirds.
Experts have shown that its disappearance was possibly due to the emergence of large marine animals that entered its ecosystem . Some of them may have been seals and whales, causing a fight for their prey.
If you’re wondering how this animal has managed to grow so large, there is a theory that predators like marine reptiles and dinosaurs were rare, which led to them being able to thrive and grow in size.
It has even been proven that penguins could acquire their enormous proportions very quickly after the disappearance of the dinosaur, 66 million years ago. Another theory says that along with the dinosaurs there may have been flying penguins . Although for the moment this is only a hypothesis.
The closest living and ancestor today is the Emperor Penguin whose approximate height is between 1.1 and 1.6 meters.
Source: OK Diario