Saturday, November 22, 2008
What Sanne Boessenkool of the University of Otago in New Zealand wanted to do was understand the history of the rare yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes). What she found when analyzing old bones was that some of them didn't come from New Zealand's only known penguin. Instead, they belonged to a species that went extinct in historical times. It seemed the species, now named Megadyptes waitaha, was the dominant form of New Zealand penguin until the Polynesians showed up around the 13th century. The larger M. waitaha was eaten out of existence, and the yellow-eyed penguins settled into their niche.