Acheologists Uncover Five-Foot-Tall Ancient Penguin

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What’s grey and white and brownish-red all over?

This recently discovered extinct Peruvian penguin. Inkayacu paracasensis (a name that means ‘water king,’ how cool is that) lived during the late Eocene period, and was probably a very deep diver.

Says Dr. Julia Clarke, leader of the University of Texas’ study on the animal:

One thing that’s interesting in living penguins is that how deep they dive correlates with body size… The heavier the penguin, the deeper it dives. If that holds true for any penguins, then the dive depths achieved by these giant forms would’ve been very different.

Paleontologists were able to figure out the color of the enormous bird because its feathers were fossilized along with its bones.

Melanosomes are cell structures relating to the formation of pigments in many animals.  If they happen to be preserved in fossils, scientists can sometimes use them to extrapolate the true color of the living animal. I. paracasensis’ melanosomes indicated that it was grey and brown, rather than the black and white we associate with modern penguins.

Did I mention that it was only slightly shorter than I am? Yes?

Did I mention that there are penguins on Google street view?

(BBC News via /.)


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