Representative image Photograph:( AFP )
The fossils were found by the students when they were on a field trip
A lucky group of schoolkids in New Zealand found fossils of a unique species of giant penguins in 2006. Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club's field trip led to the students discovering fossilised remains of the penguin's torso, arms and legs.
Scientists from Massey University have now examined and formally described the find.
"The penguin is similar to the Kairuku giant penguins first described from Otago but has much longer legs, which the researchers used to name the penguin waewaeroa – Te reo Māori for 'long legs'," explained zoologist Daniel Thomas from Massey University. He was quoted by Sciencealert.
Scientists say that long legs must have made these penguins taller than other penguins.
The ancient continent of Zealandia of which New Zealand forms a part has been associated with 10 ancient giant penguins. This includes 60-million-year-old, 1.6-meter-tall Crossvallia waiparensis discovered in 2019, and 30-million-year-old Kairuku waitaki.