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5th tall Penguin with Red Feathers

  • 02-10-2010 11:02am
    Registered Users Posts: 30,747 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean

    Inkayacu paracasensis which lived in Peru 36 million years ago was a five foot tall penguin and has been nicknamed 'the water king'. Surprisingly, Inkayacu had greay and even red feathers, showing that the modern black and white 'dinner jacket' coluring of penguins must have been a fairly recent evolutionary adaptation. Scientists believe it evolved as a means of counter shading to evade predators as penguins adapted to a more aquatic lifestyle.
    Inkayacu also represents the first time fossilised penguin feathers have been found.
    "We found that the leading edge of its wing was gray, and the underside of the wing was a reddish brown," said study leader Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin.

    But the team doesn't have enough feathers from the water king penguin (Inkayacu paracasensis) to determine the colors of its entire body.

    "We can't totally 'color in all the lines' on the penguin yet, or tell which feathers may have been part of a brighter display pattern on the bird, like the eye and neck bands on some modern species of penguin"—such as the rockhopper penguin (picture)—study co-author Dan Ksepka, an avian paleontologist at North Carolina State University, said in a statement.

    "But features of the bones tell us that this particular fossil was a fully grown adult, not a juvenile, so finding brown and gray colors was a surprise," he added.

    Full article (plus video) here.

    Illustration by Katie Browne