Fossil Counterparts of Giant Penguins from the North Pacific

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Science  09 Nov 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4419, pp. 688-689
DOI: 10.1126/science.206.4419.688


New fossils of giant, flightless penguinlike birds have been found in late Oligocene and early Miocene rocks in Japan and in the state of Washington. These birds belong to the order Pelecaniformes, in the extinct family Plotopteridae, previously known by a single fragment of bone from California. Hindlimb and pelvic morphology is most similar to that of Recent anhingas, but the wing is paddlelike and remarkably convergent toward penguins and flightless auks. Both the Plotopteridae and the giant penguins became extinct by the middle Miocene, possibly because of competition from seals and porpoises.