Fossil Penguins

Palaeospheniscus patagonicus is the type species of the penguin genus Palaeospheniscus, which is known from fossils. It stood about 6575 cm high in life, roughly the size of an African Penguin. This species is known from several dozen bones, found in Early Miocene strata of the Patagonian Molasse Formation. The specimens from known localities were collected near Trelew and Gaiman in Chubut Province, Argentina. Giant Penguins Once Swam the Southern Oceans. Read more ...

In the News ...

Largest penguin ever discovered weighed a whopping 340 pounds, fossils reveal   Live Science - February 9, 2023

Researchers in New Zealand have unearthed fossils from two previously unknown ancient penguin species. One of the new species is the largest penguin ever discovered. Scientists have unearthed the fossilized remains of the largest ever known penguin on Earth, a 340-pound (154 kilograms) behemoth that glided through the oceans around what is now New Zealand more than 50 million years ago.

Study reveals 60 million years of penguin evolution   PhysOrg - July 19, 2022
An international team of 40 researchers analyzed the genomes - the complete set of DNA - of all living and recently extinct penguin species and combined this with the fossil record to gain new insights into the key events and processes that shaped the evolution of these iconic birds. The study revealed that penguin evolution was driven by changes in climate, and ocean currents. Scientists found "signatures" in the penguin genomes that suggest flip-flopping between small populations in climate refugia - regions in which penguins could survive during periods when conditions everywhere else were unfavorable - and population growth and re-colonization during periods when conditions improved. As temperatures dropped, penguins were forced further north, before moving back to the poles as temperatures warmed and habitats became available for re-colonization.

Ancient crested penguin fossil found in New Zealand   PhysOrg - August 12, 2020
A team of researchers from New Zealand and the U.S. is reporting on the discovery of unearthed 3.36-million-year-old crested penguin fossils found on New Zealand's North Island.

'Human-sized penguin' lived in New Zealand   BBC - August 15, 2019
The remains of a giant penguin the size of a human have been discovered in New Zealand. The fossilized bones are of an animal thought to have been about 1.6m (5ft 3in) tall, weighing up to 80kg (176lb). It lived in the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 and 56 million years ago. The animal, dubbed "monster penguin" by Canterbury Museum, adds to the list of now-extinct gigantic New Zealand fauna. Parrots, eagles, burrowing bats and the moa, a 3.6m-tall bird, also feature.

Giant Penguin: This Ancient Bird Was As Tall As a Refrigerator   Live Science - December 13, 2017
The fossils of a refrigerator-size penguin were so gargantuan that the scientists who discovered them initially thought they belonged to a giant turtle. The ancient behemoth is now considered the second-largest penguin on record. The newfound penguin species would have stood nearly 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) and weighed about 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) during its heyday tens of millions of years ago. The bird's gigantism indicates that "a very large size seems to have developed early on in penguin evolution, soon after these birds lost their flight capabilities.

Giant Prehistoric Penguins Evolved During the Dinosaur Age   Live Science - February 28, 2017
Penguins that walked the Earth 61 million years ago might have been giants, growing to nearly 5 feet tall, according to the oldest penguin fossils unearthed to date. Perhaps even more impressive, these oversize waddlers might have evolved alongside dinosaurs, the researchers report in a new study. Penguins are flightless, but they can swim at speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h). The biggest living penguin, the emperor penguin, can grow to be about 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) tall, but previously unearthed fossils revealed that extinct penguins could get as large as 5.4 feet (1.65 m) tall. Although penguins are flightless, their anatomy suggests that their ancestors could fly, just as other modern birds can. For example, some wing bones in living penguins are fused together in the same way as those in flying birds, said study co-author Paul Scofield, a paleontologist at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition,modern penguins have air sacs in their bodies just as flying birds do, although in flying birds, these air sacs help reduce weight for flight, whereas in penguins, they help the birds control their buoyancy

Big Bird: Fossils of World's Tallest Penguin Discovered   Live Science - February 27, 2012
New Zealand was once home to the tallest penguin species ever known - a lanky bird that stood as high as 4.2 feet (1.3 meters). The penguin, dubbed Kairuku grebneffi, lived about 27 million years ago in a penguin paradise. More of New Zealand was underwater at the time, with only today's mountaintops emerging from the sea. That made for excellent coastal nesting for a number of penguin species

Ancient giant penguin unearthed in Peru   BBC - October 1, 2010
The fossil of a giant penguin that lived 36 million years ago has been discovered in Peru. Scientists say the find shows that key features of the plumage were present quite early on in penguin evolution. The animal's feathers were brown and grey, distinct from the black "tuxedo" look of modern penguins. It was about 1.5m (5ft) tall and nearly twice as heavy as an Emperor Penguin, the largest living species. The bird, named Inkayacu paracasensis, or Water King, waddled the Earth during the late Eocene period. It had a long, straight beak, much longer than that of its modern relatives. The fossil was found in Reserva Nacional de Paracas in Peru. The scientists nicknamed the penguin "Pedro" - after a scaly character in a Colombian TV series. One of the highlights of the study was the presence of well-preserved feathers and scales.