Monster penguins that lived in New Zealand 62 million years in the past had doppelgangers in Japan, the USA and Canada, in response to a brand new examine.
For the examine revealed Monday within the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Analysis, scientists recognized similarities between the penguins’ fossilized bones and people of a bunch of a lot youthful Northern Hemisphere birds, often called plotopterids.
These similarities counsel plotopterids and historical penguins appeared fairly comparable 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.
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 comparable lengthy beaks with slit-like nostrils, chest and shoulder bones, and wings.
“What’s exceptional about all that is that plotopterids and historical penguins advanced these shared options independently,” stated Vanessa De Pietri, a curator at Canterbury Museum, in a assertion. “That is an instance of what we name convergent evolution, when distantly associated organisms develop comparable morphological traits below comparable environmental situations.”
Though they shared these bodily traits with historical and fashionable penguins, plotopterids are extra carefully associated to gannets and cormorants than they’re to penguins.
“These birds advanced in numerous hemispheres, hundreds of thousands of years aside, however from a distance you’d be hard-pressed
to inform them aside,” Paul Scofield, a Canterbury Museum curator, stated. “Plotopterids appeared like penguins, they swam like penguins, they most likely ate like penguins — however they weren’t penguins.”