Scientists finally have the skinny on two extinct species of giant “svelte” penguins that lived in New Zealand 25 million years ago.
Instead of a modern penguin’s rotund shape, each of the newly named species had a narrow chest; long, tapering flippers; and a narrow beak—a body specialized for hunting fish.
Standing about 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) tall, both species would have been taller than the tallest living penguin species, the emperor penguin, which can reach 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall.
In the penguins’ time, New Zealand itself was mostly underwater—only a smattering of islets were above the surface. Shallow waves rich with food and protection from predators would’ve made the habitat ideal for the birds. Learn more here or here.