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Kumimanu
Temporal range: Paleocene, 60–56Ma
Kumimanu NT.jpg
Restoration
Scientific classification
Genus:
Kumimanu
Species:
biceae

Kumimanu is an extinct species of giant penguin, which lived around 60 to 56 million years ago. The species arose after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs. Fossils were found in New Zealand, and the discovery was announced in December 2017.

General information

The order Sphenisciformes refers to all living and extinct penguin species. In 2017 an article on one of the largest and oldest species of the order herewith discovered was published. It was discovered at Hampden Beach in the Otago region of New Zealand. This organism is named Kumimanu biceae, of which the genus name translates from Maori as "monster bird", while the specific name honours the nickname of the mother one of the authors. Standing approximately five feet and three to ten inches (1.60 to 1.77m) tall, and weighing over two hundred pounds (91 kg), being thus the second largest penguin thus far known. This is a particularly significant discovery because the fossil is fifty-five million years old — meaning it lived in the Paleocene era — which is many million years older than all other previously found remains of penguins which reached 'giant' sizes, and thus the third or fourth oldest penguin known (pending new publications). Therefore, it allows scientists to better understand the evolution of penguins.

Ecology and behavior

Kumimanu biceae lived in New Zealand, which was subtropical during much of the Paleocene era. There were many organisms in these waters including sea turtles and various fishes. K. biceae were likely similar to modern-day penguins in the way they lived. However, these “monster birds” were likely able to consume larger prey due to their size.

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