Monster penguins that lived in New Zealand 62 million years in the past had doppelgangers in Japan, the USA and Canada, in accordance with a brand new examine.
For the examine printed Monday within the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Analysis, scientists recognized similarities between the penguins’ fossilized bones and people of a gaggle of a lot youthful Northern Hemisphere birds, generally known as plotopterids.
These similarities counsel plotopterids and historical penguins seemed fairly related and will give scientists perception into how the birds started to make use of their wings to swim as an alternative of fly.
The earliest identified penguins swam in tropical seas that nearly submerged the land we presently know as New Zealand. Paleontologists found the fossilized bones of those historical waddlers, a few of which had been as giant as 5-feet-tall, at Waipara, North Canterbury.
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Plotopterids developed within the Northern Hemisphere about 37 to 34 million years in the past, researchers say, and so they’ve been discovered at websites in North America and Japan.
When scientists in contrast the fossilized bones of plotopterids with fossils of the enormous penguin species from Canterbury Museum’s assortment, they discovered that each had related lengthy beaks with slit-like nostrils, chest and shoulder bones, and wings.
“What’s outstanding about all that is that plotopterids and historical penguins developed these shared options independently,” stated Vanessa De Pietri, a curator at Canterbury Museum, in a press release. “That is an instance of what we name convergent evolution, when distantly associated organisms develop related morphological traits below related environmental circumstances.”
Though they shared these bodily traits with historical and trendy penguins, plotopterids are extra carefully associated to gannets and cormorants than they’re to penguins.
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“These birds developed in several hemispheres, tens of millions of years aside, however from a distance you’ll be hard-pressed
to inform them aside,” Paul Scofield, a Canterbury Museum curator, stated. “Plotopterids seemed like penguins, they swam like penguins, they most likely ate like penguins — however they weren’t penguins.”