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Fossilised Long Legged Giant Penguin Identified as New Species

The fossilised remains of an unusual long-legged giant Penguin, first found by schoolchildren in New Zealand. Researchers said that they belonged to a previously unknown species. The fossils were recovered from the sandstone rock soon afterwards and donated to the Waikato Museum in 2017.

The group of schoolchildren who were taking part in an organised fossil hunting field trip in 2006 discovered the giant set of fossilised Penguin bones in Kawhia Harbour, in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island.

The researchers analysed the bones, using 3D scanning, which enabled the research team, from Massey University in New Zealand and Bruce Museum in Connecticut. They tried to produce a 3D-printed replica of the skeleton and found the Penguin would have stood at around 1.4 metres tall.Dr Daniel Thomas, a senior lecturer in Zoology from Massey’s School of Natural and Computational Sciences, said the fossil is between 27.3 and 34.6 million years old and is from a time when much of the Waikato was underwater. The tallest species is in the emperor and stands at 1.2 metres.

Penguin have a fossil record reaching almost as far back as the age of the dinosaurs, and the most ancient of these have been discovered in New Zealand.Taly Matthews, a long-time member of the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club, and who works for the Department of Conservation in Taranaki, said that finding any fossil is exciting when you think about the time passed while this animal remained hidden in the rock. Finding a giant Penguin fossil though is on another level. As more giant fossils are discovered we get to fill in more gaps in the story.

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