Penguin fossil calls Waikato Museum home

A 28 million-year-old penguin fossil has officially become part of the museum's permanent collection.
CHRISTINE CORNEGE FAIRFAX NZ

A 28 million-year-old penguin fossil has officially become part of the museum's permanent collection.

It's 28 million years old, weighed as much as Stephen Donald, and was the about the same height as Prince.

And it calls the Waikato Museum home.

A local penguin fossil, found by Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club in 2006 has officially become part of the museum's permanent collection.

The Kawhia giant penguin was discovered by a group of young explorers from the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club in 2007.
CHRISTINE CORNEGE FAIRFAX NZ

The Kawhia giant penguin was discovered by a group of young explorers from the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club in 2007.

The bones, preserved in Mudstone, have pride of place in a glass cabinet near the entrance. The bones were found in Kawhia.

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Although the fossil has been at the museum for the past several years there was a process to get it officially part of the museum's permanent collection.

A painting of the Kawhia giant penguin by Ronald Cometti.
Simon Cometti and Amanda Wilson

A painting of the Kawhia giant penguin by Ronald Cometti.

And it appears to be a hit with most of the visitors.

Sydney man John Toohey was fascinated by the fossil during his visit.

"It's good for a fossil to see other fossils," he joked.

The penguin - which scientists believed weighed about 100kg, and was 1.5m tall- was comparatively a lot larger than modern day penguins.

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An Emperor penguin weighs 30kg and was 1.15m tall - both lighter and shorter than it's ancient ancestor.

"I really like seeing how things develop and the synergies of other forms of life, the science of continuity and how things have developed over time," Toohey said.

Though the fossil did not fare as well under his partner's gaze.

"There's only so much information I can hold in my brain at a time, and fossils don't fit," Robyn Alexander said.

"I'm just going to have to say sorry to my granddaughter because I can't tell her about the penguin fossil when I get home."

But Alexander did sing the praises of another famous New Zealand penguin - Dunedin's Yellow Eyed Penguin.

She saw a cluster of the birds huddling together, the eyes were the most amazing things she had ever seen, Alexander said.

"Now that sort of penguin I have space for in my brain."

 

 - Stuff

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