New Zealand: Giant penguin bones lay in shed for years

Emperor penguins in a Japanese zoo watch a man in a penguin suit Image copyright AFP
Image caption The new species would have been taller than today's Emperor penguins (right)

A giant penguin that would have towered above today's largest species has been discovered in a New Zealand university's storage shed, it's been reported.

The fossilised bones of the as-yet unnamed bird had remained in storage at Auckland University since 1971, until the advent of 3D printing helped experts confirm that it was "almost certainly" a new type of giant penguin, Radio New Zealand International reports. The new technology meant that Dr Daniel Thomas was able to scan the bones to an American palaeontologist, and they were able to determine the bird would have stood at least 30cm taller than an emperor penguin, and taller than the extinct Kairuku penguin, whose remains were identified in 2012. "I imagine an emperor would have run away scared," Dr Thomas said, pointing out that he was still unsure if the 4ft 3in (1.3m) specimen was a juvenile or an adult.

The New Zealand Herald said that the new species was the first of its kind to be found on North Island, and the specimen dates back 28 million years to a time when New Zealand was largely underwater. The storage shed at the university may still yield other discoveries, Dr Thomas said. "It turned out there was a raft of other specimens as well - it was a treasure trove of some really incredible stuff," he told the paper.

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