Fossil of 5-Foot-Tall Penguin Found in Peru

Creature, dubbed 'Water King,' lacked tuxedo coloring
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User
Posted Oct 1, 2010 3:30 AM CDT
Updated Oct 1, 2010 7:00 AM CDT
Fossil body feathers of Inkayacu paracasensis, which may have been twice as tall as today's Emperor Penguins.   (AP Photo/Science)
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(Newser) – It sounds both adorable and fearsome: A red penguin that stands nearly five feet tall. Researchers in Peru have unearthed the fossil of just such a creature, a giant penguin that waddled its way around the world some 36 million years ago. The creature may have lacked the modern bird "tuxedo" look, notes the Telegraph. By examining the specimens pigment cells, scientists determined that the old-school penguins were "reddish brown" not black and white.

The fossil, named Inkayacu paracasensis—or Water King—gives researchers their very first look at prehistoric penguins. The lead scientist called the finding "cool." Before this fossil, "we had no evidence about the feathers, colors, and flipper shapes of ancient penguins," she said. "We had questions, and this was our first chance to start answering them." Click here for more on penguins.

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