Nature and climate News | Scientific ecology

Ancient New Zealand monster penguins had doubles: their extinct relatives lived in Japan, the USA and Canada

Ancient New Zealand monster penguins had doubles

About 62 million years ago, the territory of New Zealand was inhabited by the ancestors of modern penguins. They are significantly different from their modern relatives, at least in size. The scientists call the ancient penguins giant monsters. Science believed that only New Zealand was their habitat. A recent research has proved that doubles of ancient monsters also inhabited Japan, the United States and Canada.

The fossilized remains of ancient penguins and younger individuals called plotterids helped to figure that out. Identified similarities demonstrate that the plotterids and ancient penguins had many similar external qualities, in addition, both species used their wings to swim rather than to fly.

62 million years ago, the earliest known penguins swam in the tropical seas that covered vast areas of the planet. The paleontologists found the stone remains of these ancient creatures, identifying nine species in New Zealand.

They were different, among them there were penguins of the usual, "modern" size, and there were giants who are considered as monsters, its growth exceeded 1.6 meters. As it turned out, close relatives of the ancient penguins, plotterids, appeared in the northern hemisphere much later than the penguins.

It happened approximately 37-34 million years ago. Petrified remains were discovered in Japan, and then in North America. Both the first and later species used their wings as fins. Unlike the ancient penguins, that survived to modern days, without actually changing, the last species of plotterids became extinct about 25 million years ago.

Today, the scientists compare them and believe that they were connected by evolutionary development. Both species had “common” long beaks with slit-like nostrils, similar pectoral and humerus bones, and similar wings. These similarities show that both groups of birds were strong swimmers who used their wings as fins to find food under the water.