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Monster penguins as big as a human once roamed New Zealand

A "monster penguin" which stood as tall as a human has been identified by scientists in New Zealand.
A team of researchers from the Canterbury Museum discovered the new species after studying fossils found in Waipara near the city of Christchurch on New Zealand's south island. 
A new species of giant penguin  about 1.6 metres tall  has been identified from fossils found in Waipara, North Canterbury.
A new species of giant penguin about 1.6 metres tall has been identified from fossils found in Waipara, North Canterbury. (EPA/AAP)
The giant penguin - Crossvallia waiparensis - stood at 1.6 metres tall.
It is the latest member of a growing cast of massive fauna that used to call the island nation home. These include the world's biggest parrot, a giant eagle, a giant burrowing bat, and the moa, a kind of large flightless bird.
At 70 to 80 kilograms, the penguin would have weighed more than the world's average human being, who tips the scales at 62 kilograms according to a 2012 BMC Public Health study.
It lived between 66 and 56 million years ago, during the Paleocene Epoch, making it one of the world's oldest known penguin species.
The largest living penguin species is the Emperor Penguin, which stands 1.2 metres tall.
Emperor Penguins, pair with young, Cape Norwegia, Antarctica.
Emperor Penguins, pair with young, Cape Norwegia, Antarctica. (PA/AAP)

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Amateur paleontologist Leigh Love discovered the giant penguin bones in 2018, and they were analysed by a team from the Canterbury Museum and the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.
According to researchers, the giant penguin's closest relative is another Paleocene species, Crossvallia unienwillia, and this second discovery provides further evidence that early penguins were massive.
"It further reinforces our theory that penguins attained a giant size very early in their evolution," Vanesa De Pietri of the Canterbury Museum said.
The fossilised remains of Crossvallia unienwillia were found in Antarctica, and researchers say the discovery provides evidence of a close connection between New Zealand and Antarctica.
"When the Crossvallia species were alive, New Zealand and Antarctica were very different from today -- Antarctica was covered in forest and both had much warmer climates," Paul Scofield of the Canterbury Museum said.
The fossil, a tarsometatarsus, left, is displayed next to a similar bone for an Emperor Penguin in Christchurch.
The fossil, a tarsometatarsus, left, is displayed next to a similar bone for an Emperor Penguin in Christchurch. (AP/AAP)
Both species have leg bones that make researchers think their feet were more important in swimming than those of modern penguins, or standing upright was not yet as important.
More details of the research were published in the journal Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.
Dr. Paul Scofield, senior curator at Canterbury Museum, holds the fossil, a tibiotarsus, left, next to a similar bone of an Emperor Penguin in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Dr. Paul Scofield, senior curator at Canterbury Museum, holds the fossil, a tibiotarsus, left, next to a similar bone of an Emperor Penguin in Christchurch, New Zealand. (AP/AAP)
In early August the Canterbury Museum also revealed details of the world's largest parrot, which used its massive beak to crack open food.
The parrot stood more than 91cm tall and weighed about seven kilograms, according to a study.
It lived in New Zealand about 19 million years ago.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019

Source : 9news.com.au

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