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Crossvallia spp.
Crossvallia spp.

Temporal range: Late Paleocene ~55 Ma

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: †Crossvallia Tambussi et al. 2005
  • Crossvallia unienwillia (type)
  • Crossvallia waiparensis
Crossvallia is an extinct genus of penguins which contains two species. The first discovery was Crossvallia unienwillia, whose remains have been recovered from and named after the Late Paleocene Cross Valley Formation on Seymour Island, Antarctica. It measured about 140 centimetres (4.6 ft), it was larger than any living penguin.

In August, 2019 a second species was discovered near Waipara, New Zealand. It has been named Crossvallia waiparensis. It measured about 160cm (5.2 ft) and weighed around 80 kilograms. It is thought to have lived 56 - 66 MYA. It was discovered by amateur paleontologist Leigh Love.

Upon further examination of the anatomy Species Crossvallia are more closely related to Anthropornithinae.

Giant penguin fossil found in New Zealand

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The enormous penguin, as reconstructed by Canterbury Museum

The fossilised remains of a huge penguin almost the size of an adult human have been found in New Zealand's South Island, scientists announced Wednesday.

The giant waddling sea bird stood 1.6 metres (63 inches) high and weighed 80 kilograms, about four times heavier and 40cm taller than the modern Emperor penguin, researchers said.

Named "Crossvallia waiparensis", it hunted off New Zealand's coast in the Paleocene era, 66-56 million years ago.

An amateur fossil hunter found leg bones belonging to the bird last year and it was confirmed as a new species in research published this week in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

Canterbury Museum researcher Vanesa De Pietri said it was the second giant penguin from the Paleocene era found in the area.

"It further reinforces our theory that penguins attained great size early in their evolution," she said.

Scientists have previously speculated that the mega-penguins eventually died out due to the emergence of other large marine predators such as seals and toothed whales.

New Zealand is well known for its extinct giant birds, including the flightless moa, which was up to 3.6-metres tall, and Haast's eagle, which had a wingspan of three metres.

Just last week, Canterbury Museum announced the discovery of a prodigious parrot that was one metre tall and lived about 19 million years ago.

Journal Reference:
Gerald Mayr et al. Leg bones of a new penguin species from the Waipara Greensand add to the diversity of very large-sized Sphenisciformes in the Paleocene of New Zealand, Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology (2019). DOI: 10.1080/03115518.2019.1641619

We describe a new large-sized species of the Sphenisciformes (penguins) from Paleocene strata of the Waipara Greensand in New Zealand. ?Crossvallia waiparensis, sp. nov. is represented by leg bones of a single individual as well as two tentatively referred proximal humeri and resembles Crossvallia unienwillia from the late Paleocene of Antarctica in size and morphology. The new species is the fifth published species of stem group Sphenisciformes from the Waipara Greensand and the fourth one, which has been formally named. It is distinguished from a recently reported tarsometatarsus of an unnamed large-sized penguin species from the Waipara Greensand and is the oldest well-represented giant penguin. ?C. waiparensis approaches the size of the Eocene taxa Anthropornis and Palaeeudyptes and provides further evidence that penguins attained a very large size early in their evolutionary history.
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