Monday, June 25, 2007

Not quite Monty Python, but a giant penguin nonetheless

When I heard the news today that scientists have discovered a new species of giant penguin that roamed Equatorial Peru 36 million years ago, of course the first thing that came to my video-age polluted mind was the silly Monty Python Hollywood-movie spoof "Scott of the Antarctic" (watch a clip of the skit on YouTube, and now for something completely different check out the much more tragic tale of the real Robert Falcon Scott).

The new discovery isn't 20 foot tall, electric or tentacled, but it's still pretty cool. Icadyptes salasi, the extinct 5-foot tall species, did have a potentially scary, extra large, pointy beak — the better to stab you or fish with — but that's as close to the realm of "Attack of the Giant Penguins" style monster movies as we're going to get. Even imagining them over-sized and running amok in the streets of Chicago, as in my photo mock-up, doesn't elicit much fear of these cute, flightless birds.

Here's an excerpt of the story from Science Daily:

March Of The Giant Penguins: Prehistoric Equatorial Penguins Reached 5 Feet In Height

Science Daily — Giant prehistoric penguins? In Peru? It sounds more like something out of Hollywood than science, but a researcher from North Carolina State University along with U.S., Peruvian and Argentine collaborators has shown that two heretofore undiscovered penguin species reached equatorial regions tens of millions of years earlier than expected and during a period when the earth was much warmer than it is now.

Read the full article
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