The biggest penguin that ever existed was a 'monster bird'.

New Zealand has been a haven for earthbound birds for eons. The absence of terrestrial predators allowed flightless parrots, kiwis and moas to thrive. Now researchers are adding two prehistoric penguins to this grounded aviary.

One species was a behemoth that waddled along the New Zealand coastline nearly 60 million years ago.

At almost 350 pounds, or 160 kilograms, it was the heaviest penguin known to science. Alan Tennyson, a New Zealand's paleontologist, discovered the big seabird's bones in 2017 deposited on a beach in Otago, on the South Island.

Dr. Tennyson and his colleagues identified the fossilized remains of two large penguins. The humerus of one, nearly 10 inches long [25 centimeters], was nearly twice the size of those found in emperor penguins, the largest living penguin.

A second, smaller penguin species was still somewhat larger than an emperor penguin.

The researchers named the larger penguin Kumimanu [ from the Maori words for ''monster'' and ''bird'']  fordycei and the smaller Petradyptes [ ''rock diver'' ] stonehousei.

Researchers estimated the larger bird's weight by comparing the size and shape of Kumimanu's humerus with the bones of prehistoric and modern penguins. [ Jack Tamisiea ]


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