giant penguin kawhia giant penguin

Giant Penguin Discovered in Kawhia

Giant penguin seen as world-class fossil find in Kawhia New Zealand.

A GROUP of New Zealand school children have found the remains of what is believed to be a 40 million-year-old "giant" penguin.

Had the species of penguin survived to the present day it would have looked "many men in the eye", the Waikato Times report said.

The remains were found last month near Kawhia, on the west coast of the North Island, by children looking for fossils for a nearby natural history museum.

"I went 'Oh my God', and just about keeled over on the reef," group leader Chris Templer recalled.

A New Zealand expert on bira fossils says the discovery at Kawhia - New Zealand of a giant penguin has global significance. The discovery was made by the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club on a fossil hunt when one of the members noticed bones sticking out of a sanstone platform uncovered by the tide in the Kawhia harbour near Te Waitere .

An Otago University geologist, Associate Professor EwanFordyce, said the specimen was spectacular for its completeness and quality of preservation.

The penguin would have been huge about 1.5m tall and weighing more than 100 kg. Only six similar-quality specimens of other penguins have been found in new Zealand.

"It is my impression that, on a global scale, this is one of the really significant fossil penguin finds," Prof Fordyce said.

Most penguin fossils were single bones or a few scattered bones and it was difficult to compare them.

"Because there are many bones associated from the one skeleton, the specimen is important in showing exactly which bones belong together in the one bird," he said.

Professor Fordyce said he could not firmly identify the bird from Photographs but similar penguins found in the Waitaki region were called Palaeeudyptes, meaning ancient southern diver.