Revealed! Ancient man-sized penguins lived in New Zealand waters

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Human size Penguin fossils found in New Zealand
Human size Penguin fossils found in New Zealand

New Zealand : A group of scientists have announced the discovery of giant penguin with size and weight equivalent to medium size man.

Nearly, 55 to 60 million years ago, ancient Penguin waddled around off the east coast of New Zealand. It was huge in size compared to current date penguins. It has been estimated that the bird probably weighed about 220 pounds and was around 5 feet 10 inches tall.

"That's about as tall as a medium-sized man," says Gerald Mayr, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Franfurt, Germany, and the lead author of the new study published today in Nature Communications. "This particular specimen is one of the largest known fossil penguins."

While the fossils suggest huge, hefty ancient penguin, the largest living penguin, the Emperor penguin, is a good bit shorter - around 4 feet. 

(Image: NPR)

The researchers have named the ancient bird as Kumimanu biceae, which means 'monster bird' in the Maori language.(Kumi is the name of a monster in Maori mythology and manu means bird.) 

The researchers believe that the massive size of penguins came due to oceans, nearly 20 percent of the ocean was covered by the giant birds before whale, seals and other marine animals came in the picture.

"Giant penguins were occupying the seas about 20 million years before whales entered the oceans," Ewan Fordyce, a paleontologist at the University of Otago, New Zealand, who wasn't involved in the new study.

And scientists think that large marine mammals — whales, walruses, seals — are why giant penguins eventually became extinct, leaving us with the smaller, cuter birds we all adore.