Scientists Find Missing Link Between Modern and Prehistoric Penguins
(Courthouse News) – Scientists have discovered the missing link between modern penguins and their ancient ancestors who lived more than 60 million years ago, identifying a new species Monday that lived beside its human-sized penguin cousins.
In a paper published in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, researchers pieced together the fossils of the newly described Kupoupou stilwelli penguin found in the Chatham Islands near New Zealand’s South Island in the Pacific Ocean.
The species, with proportions more in line with modern penguins, appears to be the oldest link between the two. Research scientists said it lived between 60 – 62.5 million years ago when the waters around New Zealand were tropical.
Jacob Blokland, Flinders University palaeontology doctoral candidate, discovered the existence of the ancient species after examining fossils collected from the island.
“Next to its colossal human-sized cousins, including the recently described monster penguin Crossvallia waiparensis, Kupoupou was comparatively small – no bigger than modern king penguins which stand just under 1.1 metres (3.6 feet) tall,” Blokland said in a statement.