The study of a fossil found on the South Island of New Zealand revealed that an especially enormous penguin once roamed the area.
The specimen examined is estimated to have stood about 5 ½ feet tall and weighed in at around 220 pounds.
That makes it one of the two largest penguins known to science.
Estimated to have lived between 56 million and 59 million years ago, scientists speculate that the mass extinction of numerous water-dwelling reptilian predators allowed the bird to grow to the astonishing size.
The team, which hails from Germany and New Zealand, also suggests the growth spurt didn’t hold as new aquatic threats, including toothed whales, developed soon after.
In addition to being one of the largest penguin fossils ever studied, the remains are “among the oldest known.”
Fossil and skeletal discoveries throughout history
Fossil and skeletal discoveries throughout history
French custom officials present July 6 six of 315 fossilized dinosaur bird eggs seized recently from a container ship from Madagascar and which had transited via the British port of Felixstowe. The fossilized eggs, five or six times larger than an ostrich egg and weigh nearly 12 kg, belong to the flightless bird 'Aepyornis Maximus' species commonly know as 'Elephant Bird'. The eggs have a unit value of 10,000 French francs ($1,560), making the total value of nearly a half million dollars. The shipment of fossilized eggs were destined for a Paris company specialized in collectors in France and northern Europe. Two people are being held for questioning by custom officials.
(Reuters Photographer / Reuters)
Bill Simpson looks inside a fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex known as "SUE", before removing its forelimb to be used for research at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., October 6, 2016.
A man cleans a fossil of a mother and baby in Taichung City, Taiwan, April 26, 2016 in this still image taken from video.
(REUTERS/via Reuters TV)
The fossils of the newly-discovered prehistoric pterosaur (front) and a model of its head are displayed at Rio's Federal University Museum in Rio de Janeiro, March 20, 2013. According to Brazilian scientists, the specimen is referred to as Tropeognathus cf. T. mesembrinus, and it is the largest known pterosaur recovered from Gondwana, the name given to the more southerly of the two supercontinents which were part of the Pangaea supercontinent in the past.
Dr. Martin Pickford displays a sub-complete skull of a fossil ape found in Karamoja region, northeast of Uganda's capital Kampala, during a news conference in Kampala August 2, 2011. Ugandan and French scientists have discovered a fossil of a skull of a tree-climbing ape from about 20 million years ago in Uganda's Karamoja region, the team said on Tuesday.
Gerald McSorley holds up a Jurassic fossil, clearly showing four prefectly preserved vertebrae, complete with spinal cord and blood vessels, which he found on the shores of Loch Ness, at his home in Stirling in Scotland, July 16, 2003. Though experts have stressed that the find is not related to the original Loch Ness monster - the remains of the plesiosaur (a long-necked, carnivorous sea reptile) are around 150 million years old and Loch Ness did not exist until the last Ice Age around 12,000 years ago - they say the find is evidence that the 35-foot-long creature once existed in the area.
(REUTERS/Jeff J Mitchell)
Gustavo Lara, Director of Culture of the town of Roque Perez, holds part of a femur bone of a glyptodont, a kind of large armadillo, at an excavation site on the outskirts of Roque Perez, some 84 miles south of Buenos Aires, May 6, 2009. Fossil bones of nine glossopteris, a glyptodont, the nearly complete skeleton of a megatherium and a head of a stegomastodon dating from the Pleistocene, the epoch from 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago, were found by paleontologists in the sediments of the Salado River due to a drought that has been affecting the area for months, local media reported.
Chilean paleontologist Consuelo Huidobro looks on at a mastodon's fossilized remains at the rural Padre Hurtado municipality near Santiago March 24, 2011. The remains of the mastodon were discovered on the banks of the Mapocho river during the construction of a water treatment plant, local media reported. It is believed that mastodons inhabited earth some 15,000 years ago.
An unearthed mastodon's fossilized remains are pictured at the rural Padre Hurtado municipality near Santiago March 11, 2011. The remains of the mastodon were discovered on the banks of the Mapocho river during the construction of a water treatment plant, local media reported. It is believed that mastodons inhabited earth some 15,000 years ago. Picture taken March 11, 2011.
Brazilian paleontologist Alexander Kellner shows the fossils and a model of the newly-discovered prehistoric pterosaur to journalists during its presentation at Rio's Federal University Museum in Rio de Janeiro, March 20, 2013. According to Brazilian scientists, the specimen is referred to as Tropeognathus cf. T. mesembrinus, and it is the largest known pterosaur fossils recovered from Gondwana, the name given to the more southerly of the two supercontinents which were part of the Pangaea supercontinent in the past.
Visitors look at the skeleton of an Apatosaurus named "Einstein" displayed at the Lewis hall in Fundidora park in Monterrey, northern Mexico, September 23, 2009. Einstein, a 75 foot, 4.5 tonne skeleton of an Apatosaurus, was found in 2005 in Dana Quarry, Wyoming, United States, and is the first major dinosaur whose skull has been found intact. With 85 percent of its skeleton being original, the exhibit is considered the most complete and articulated Apatosaurus known in the world, according to the organizers.
A detailed view of the hands or claws of Trix the female T-Rex exhibition at the Naturalis or Natural History Museum of Leiden on October 17, 2016 in Leiden, Netherlands. The skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex was excavated in 2013 in Montana, USA, by Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The fossil is part of the Naturalis collection and is more than 80% of the bone volume present. All essential and high volume bones are in place. This places Trix in the top 3 ranking of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons in the world. In addition, all the bones are extremely well preserved. The quality of this fossil is unmatched by any other large T-Rex find in the world.