Ancient Giant Penguin Discovered – ‘Water King’ Dwarfs Emperor Penguin by Several Feet

Filed in Gather News Channel by on October 1, 2010 0 Comments

Paleontologists have discovered an ancient giant penguin.  The large penguin appears to be nearly two times the size of the present-day Emperor penguin, minus the tuxedo breast-plate trademark.  The ancient giant penguin is also called Inkayacu paracasensis, or the “Water King”.

The “Water King”, and ancient giant penguin discovery

A group of researchers claim they have unearthed the fossilized remains of a reddish species in Peru. The prized discovery revealed the existence of a giant penguin that had an array of reddish feathers, unlike the black feathers on the living species, today, according to St. Louis Today.

The species discovered in Peru, is said to have stood nearly five feet tall, and dwarfs the current day Emperor penguin by nearly three feet.

Scientists say the ancient giant penguin, aka, Inkayacu paracasensis, or “Water King”, lived about 36 million years ago.

The discovery of the new reddish-brown Emperor penguin’s predecessor helps paleontologists learn more about how the feathers developed, according to UPI.

A student on the dig team from the Museo de Historia Natural in Lima (Museum of Natural History) made the discovery of the “Water Bird” by accident.  While digging, he noticed what appeared to be a foot with scales.  What was fascinating about the flight-less birds’ foot was that it had scales that are very rarely spared from decomposition.

Penguin discovery in Peru sheds light on climate change

However, upon closer inspection, the scales were of another pattern that gave scientists the idea that a series of molecular changes took place over time.  Those changes in the ancient giant penguin led to the evolution of the Emperor penguin’s savvy flight-like swimming today.

The new find was probably not an avid swimmer like the Emperor penguin today due to its large size.  It probably was too heavy to pursue fish, and perhaps, was an opportunistic predator.

The discovery of the ancient giant penguin in Peru advances what scientists already know about it’s cousin, the Emperor penguin of today.  The continued research into the life of the giant penguin 36 million years ago in old Peru, will help to understand climate change and evolution.

©2010 by Brad Bechler for Gather.com, All rights reserved

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