Inkayacu – Peru’s Giant Fossil Penguin and the Stories Its Feathers Tell
It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke: what was five feet tall, ate fish, and was grey-and-red all over? According to a paper published today in Science, the answer is Inkayacu paracasensis, a previously-unknown genus of prodigious penguin from the 36 million year old strata of Peru.
Part of a now-extinct diversification of giant penguins, Inkayacu certainly would have stood out when compared to its living relatives. At an estimated mass of 54-59 kilograms, Inkayacu was roughly twice as heavy as today’s emperor penguin, and, like its giant cousin Icadyptes, it had an hyper-elongated bill which it used to snap up fish in the ancient equatorial sea. “If you could have stood on an Eocene