Welcome to March of the Fossil Penguins
Penguins have been around for a long time – far longer than humans. The first penguins appeared at least 60 million years ago. Whether we would instantly recognize these primitive penguins as members of the same family as today’s lovable diving birds is debatable. In many ways they were very similar to living penguins – they had flipper-like wings, stood and walked in much the same way as today’s penguins on short, stumpy legs with a flat-footed posture, and were certainly flightless in air but capable of efficient “underwater flight”. There were also marked differences – these early penguins had longer necks, a more flexible and less-flattened flipper and unique beak shapes. What their feathers, color patterns and life habits were like remain mysterious in many ways, but we can piece together many aspects of how they lived with fossil evidence and observations of living seabirds.
This blog will attempt to provide a tour of the incredible diversity of penguins – both extinct and living – and report on new scientific findings from the paleontological, systematic and biological literature that provide insight into penguin evolution.