Largest penguins of all time – Giant penguins

Posted on Apr 13, 2012 in Size

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Giant Penguins

Long before the emperor penguin ruled the Antarctic roost, species of bigger penguins roamed the Southern Hemisphere, and not just the cold parts.

 

How big was it?

The largest of these giant penguin species was Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi, which could reach a height of 170 centimetres (5-feet, 7-inches), meaning it could easily stare into the eyes of an average human. At least two other species also measured in above 5-feet, making them taller than today’s Emperor.

 

What did it eat?

No different to modern-day penguins, these creatures enjoyed nothing more than feeding on fish fresh from the ocean.

 

How did it hunt?

Most hunted in the same manner as today, swimming underwater in search of fish. One species however was a little different. Icadyptes salasi had an extended beak that stretched some 30 centimetres (12 inches). It would use this to spike its dinner from the above the water’s surface similar to how humans use a harpoon or spear.

 

When was it around?

These giant penguins could be found approximately 35 million years ago during the late Eocene period.

 

Anything else?

Fossils unearthed in Peru clearly show that these creatures were not always restricted to the cold climate of the polar regions. In fact, it is thought that these birds were quite happy to roam under warmer skies. Today, the penguins of the Galapagos Islands still enjoy a warmer climate than most, suggesting they may be distant relatives of these giant penguins.

 

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