Researchers in New Zealand have discovered the fossilized remains of a new species of the extinct little penguin. The new species of penguin was discovered after scientists examined two penguin skulls.
One belonged to an adult and the other to a juvenile member of the newly identified species. The extinct species is related to the little penguins that live in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand today. Scientists have named the newly discovered extinct species Wilson’s little penguin. They have published their new findings in the Journal of Paleontology.
This discovery has given scientists insight into the evolution of the little penguins alive today. Scientists now believe that little penguins originated in New Zealand millions of years ago.
Discovery of Wilson’s little penguins may also offer scientists a way to investigate how Climate change may impact today’s little penguins. Scientists believe that looking at the skeletons of past animals may offer a way to project how current Global warming trends will impact today’s animals. This is because these animals lived in times when temperatures were much warmer,
Although today’s little penguins are not currently a species of concern, they are feeling the impact of Climate change like many other creatures. Beach-goers in northern New Zealand found the bodies of hundreds of little blue penguins last year.
After examining these dead penguins, officials found that the birds were underweight. This most likely contributed to their deaths. The officials believed that they may have either starved to death or died of hypothermia due to their low body weights.
Ultimately, the discovery of Wilson’s little penguin may help scientists determine not only what happened to species in the past, but also what may happen to present-day species in the future.
While little penguins are not currently threatened, many penguin species face endangerment due to Climate change.
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This article by Willow Lynn was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 18 July 2023.
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