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Fossil Find: Penguins the Size of NBA Players

Klekowskii penguin would have dwarfed modern cousins
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2014 8:43 AM CDT
Fossil Find: Penguins the Size of NBA Players
This photo supplied by Warner Independent Pictures shows emperor penguins.   (AP Photo/Warner Independent Pictures, Jerome Maison, File)

(Newser) – At 90 pounds, the emperor penguin has earned the title of World's Biggest Penguin—but it once had a relative that could have blown it out of the proverbial water. Researchers have discovered fossils of a 250-pound penguin on Antarctica's Seymour Island, Phys.org reports. Palaeeudyptes klekowskii lived some 37 million to 40 million years ago. That period was "a wonderful time for penguins, when 10 to 14 species lived together along the Antarctic coast," a researcher tells New Scientist.

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Researchers put the penguins' length at about 6-feet-7, New Scientist reports, or "tall enough to play in the NBA," as Discovery puts it. Penguin posture, however, means the Klekowskii's length would have been longer than its actual height, New Scientist notes. Still, they appear to have been the biggest penguins of all time. Bigger penguins are deeper divers, and they stay underwater longer; this creature could likely have stayed under for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, a study finds that today's biggest penguins are facing a serious threat. (Read more emperor penguins stories.)

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