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The Loop

Penguins were once as big as Sidney Crosby, suggest awesome new fossils

December 13, 2017
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Bruce Bennett

Science is a weird, wild, wonderful thing. One minute you’re reading about how the first interstellar object ever discovered in our solar system is being scanned for alien radio waves by a Russian billionaire, and the next you stumble across a report that suggests there was once a version of this earth with penguins the size of humans.


Based on 60-million-year-old fossils recently uncovered in New Zealand—where apparently all good things on this planet happen these days—there once existed a species of giant penguin that stood 5’ 10” tall and tipped the scale at a robust 223 pounds. That’s taller than Rickie Fowler, Lionel Messi, Conor McGregor, Darren Sproles, and Danny Devito.


Based on drastically smaller fossils thought to be around 66 millions years old, scientists theorize that the rapid growth of penguins during this era can be attributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs approximately 65 millions years ago. Whatever the reason, however, it’s interesting to wonder what life would be like if penguin size hadn’t tapered off in the ensuing centuries. Would we pump gas for each other and talk about about how it’s supposed to rain later at our respective mailboxes? Would a penguin be president and would that really be any worse?

We’ll very likely never have the answers to those questions, but if a recent effort to clone long-extinct Siberian cave lions is any indication, perhaps there is cause to dream of a bold human-penguin future after all.