Penguins were quite different than what we see today. The species went through a critical evolution process to adjust to the ever-changing environment. Researchers found key evidence from the penguin fossils which might bridge the missing link in the evolution of the species.
Researchers discovered partial skeletons of five penguins from the Chatham Islands from 2006 to 2011. Scientists claim that the discovered species, Kupoupou Stilwell, is the oldest living penguin on the earth. The sizes of the species were similar to the modern penguins, scientists revealed. Scientists claim that the species existed around 60 to 62.5 million years ago- a contemporary of Dianasore, as they got extinct in around 66 million years ago.
Jacob Blokland, the author of the study, revealed that these penguins were having a height of 3.6 feet approximately. The species had shorter legs, in comparison to the other discovered fossils. As a result, scientists believe that these penguins primarily stayed in water bodies, similar to the modern species. Like penguins these days, they were also very good at underwater.
Researchers claimed that the evolution process of penguin speeds up after the extinction of dinosaurs. They also revealed that the penguin was a part of petrels or albatross class, but later they diverged from the original class. Today, scientists believe that the penguin species lost their ability to fly and started swimming within a very short period. The time of such dramatic evolution matches the extinction period of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Researchers are hoping to find the fossil of the species from the Cretaceous period. The lead author of the study revealed that the detailed analysis of the evolution process of penguin only become possible if they analyze the fossil from the Cretaceous period. The recent discoveries suggest that once upon a time, New Zealand was the hub for the species.