New Zealand giant penguin

Pachydyptes ponderosus Oliver, 1930

Order: Sphenisciformes

Family: Spheniscidae

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

 
 
 
New Zealand giant penguin. Holotype. Specimen registration no. OR.001450; image no. MA_I064698. Fortification Hill, Oamaru. Image © Te Papa See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=314425&term=OR.001450

New Zealand giant penguin. Holotype. Specimen registration no. OR.001450; image no. MA_I064698. Fortification Hill, Oamaru. Image © Te Papa See Te Papa website: http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?irn=314425&term=OR.001450

W.R.B. (Reginald) Oliver described this, the most massive of all penguins, based on a large humerus found by Charles Traill at Fortification Hill, Oamaru before 1870 (note that Oliver p.86 incorrectly labelled the figure as a femur). The specimen is considered to be of Late Eocene age (36-34.5 million-years-old). Although not mentioned by Oliver, a coracoid and metacarpus are associated with the holotype humerus.

The humerus is 175.8 mm long, which is slightly shorter than that for Grebneff’s penguin (176.6 mm) but it is much more robust.  The New Zealand giant penguin was estimated to be 1.3 metres tall and up to 80 kg in weight.

The genus name means stout diver, and the species name means weighty.

The holotype (NMNZ OR.1450) and associated coracoid and metacarpus are in Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Two part humeri attributed to this species are held in Otago Museum.

Weblinks

http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=314425

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachydyptes

http://fossilpenguins.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/68/

http://fossilpenguins.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/record-breaking-penguins-the-tallest-penguin-ever/

References

Oliver, W.R.B. 1930. New Zealand birds. Wellington, Fine Arts.

Simpson, G.G. 1971. A review of the pre-Pleistocene penguins of New Zealand. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 144: 319-378.

Recommended citation

Miskelly, C.M. 2013 [updated 2016]. New Zealand giant penguin. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

New Zealand giant penguin

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