March of the Fossil Penguins

Fossil penguin discoveries and research

World Penguin Day

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Today is indeed World Penguin Day.  I am not sure how people are celebrating, though visiting aquariums or a penguin colony ( if you are lucky enough to live near one) come to mind.  Perhaps the birds themselves will tip you off to the appropriate festivities.  We have 19 wonderful penguin species alive today, and the total number of fossil species is 50 and counting.  Let’s hope the number of living species stays the same while the number of fossil species keeps on growing!

In celebration of World Penguin Day, please enjoy this reconstruction of the fossil penguin Icadyptes stepping ashore in Peru 34 million years ago.  This image by Kristin Lamm has previously appeared only on the front plate of my dissertation, but it is too good to keep buried. Proportions, body texture, and the outlines of the muscles and bone are all based on chopping up some frozen penguin carcasses that were donated to the American Museum of Natural History, so this reconstruction truly is scientific art.  The environment is accurate as far as we can tell from the fossil record – it seems like the Peruvian coast has been a very arid environment for tens of millions of years.  Many thanks to Kristin for creating it and giving permission to post it here.

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Written by Dan Ksepka

April 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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