The researchers found, in New Zealand, the fossils of a new prehistoric penguin species dating from 55 or 60 million years, right after the dinosaurs' extinction. The size of these bones is so big that the research team had some troubles in identifying the animal. One of the biggest penguins that ever lived is named Kumimanu Biceae, and it had a 5'10'' length (1.77 meters) when swimming, while its height was 5'5'' (1.65 meters). This animal that lived in the late Paleocene weighed about 220 pounds (100 kilos). Still, this is not the largest penguin that ever existed. Palaeeudyptes Klekowskii is the biggest penguin ever, with a weight of 115 kilos and a 2 meters length. It lived in the Late Eocene, in Antarctica.
Kumimanu Biceae may not be the biggest penguin, but it is the earliest giant penguin that was discovered, according to Alan Tennyson, a curator at the Te Papa Museum, the one who found the skeleton's first piece, in 2004. Other fossils of a giant penguin that were discovered in the past date from around 35 million years ago, from the Eocene epoch. Two species of Waimanu penguin that appeared shortly after the Cretaceous-Paleocene extinction have much smaller dimensions, and they show the signs of almost losing their ability to fly. According to the researchers, the gigantism in penguins appeared at a short time after they transformed into flightless divers. "Gigantism therefore may be an inherent feature of Paleogene penguins, which may have evolved soon after aerodynamic constraints ceased to exist," said the researchers. Kumimanu Biceae fossils were found by Alan Tennyson on a beach in Otago, New Zealand, in a boulder. He found leg, body and flipper bones, but he couldn't say what these bones were, only that they "are truly huge." After founding a rock showing a bone on its outside surface, Tennyson took the rock at his office where the rock stood for a few years.
In 2015 the extraction on the boulder started and, even from the beginning, the research team realized that they were discovering some huge bird bones.
The name of this new penguin is a combination of Kumimanu (meaning 'monster bird' in Maori) and Biceae, in honor of Bice Tennyson, the mother of Alan Tennyson. The melting of the arctic glaciers could lead to the discovering of other fossils of some giant penguin species that lived on the Earth.