Scientists unearth extinct 5ft 2in 'monster' penguin in New Zealand

The discovery is being seen as significant to understand more about giant penguins. (Canterbury Museum)

A giant penguin which would have stood at 5ft 2 inches in height has been identified from fossil bones in New Zealand.

Researchers believe that the giant 80kg penguins thrived once the dinosaurs became extinct around 60 million years ago.

Canterbury Museum has called the animal, which are four times heavier than today’s species, “monster penguin”.

The findings were published this week in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal Of Palaeontology.

This comes days after news emerged about 'Sqawkzilla' the oversized parrot, whose fossils found in New Zealand reveal the existence of an ancient parrot which would have stood as tall as a four-year-old child.

These penguins lived in the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 and 56 million years ago (CANTERBURY MUSEUM)

Dr Paul Scofield, co-author and a senior curator at the Canterbury Museum, said the discovery is significant because the species is similar to another giant penguin found in Antarctica and helps connect the two regions.

He believes the penguins became extinct due to marine mammals ruling the waters.

The leg bones of the penguin fossils suggest its feet played a greater role in swimming than those of today’s penguins.

The bones belong to one of the largest penguins ever found. (CANTERBURY MUSEUM)

He said: “The oceans were ripe for the picking with the lack of mega predators.

“It looks like what was going on was that penguins were just starting to exploit that niche.”

Scientists believe the penguins would have shared the waters surrounding New Zealand with giant turtles, corals and sharks,

Read More on Yahoo News

‘Squawkzilla’: Cannibal parrot half the size of a man is found

Criticism mounts of New Zealand mosque shooting response

The monster penguins, named Crossvallia waiparensis, would have been about twice the weight and 1ft taller than the largest type of penguins alive today, emperor penguins.

Today's Emperor Penguin grows to about 1.2m tall (GETTY)

Enthusiast Leigh Love found the monster penguin’s bones near the South Island city of Christchurch in an eroding bank.

Mr Love said: “It wasn’t until I got the fossils home and did a little preparation that I realised I had something completely different than what had been found before.”

---Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK---