Thursday, June 28, 2007

Prehistoric Happy Feet

What do you call a five foot penguin?
Whatever it wants to be called.

Peruvian prehistoric penguins were taller than Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito is 4'11" tall. These penguins topped out at 5 feet, and lived during a particularly sweltering time in Earth's history. 36 million years ago Icadyptes salasi plied the waters off the southern coast of Peru.

A prehistoric penguin has been uncovered that - at more than 5ft tall and with a spear-like 7in beak - is the mother of all penguins.

A giant I salasi skull compared: How the prehistoric penguins marched on Peru
A giant I salasi skull compared to Peru’s modern Humboldt penguin

The giant birds lived around the equator tens of millions of years earlier than expected and during a period when the earth was much warmer than it is now.

Researchers discovered their fossilised remains in Peru.

Evidence that the giant penguins once marched to South America was found by Dr Julia Clarke of North Carolina State University.

"We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species, but the new fossils date back to one of the warmest periods in the last 65 million years," Dr Clarke said. "The evidence indicates that penguins reached low-latitude regions more than 30 million years prior to our previous estimates."


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