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Penguin bones from 'land of fire' rewrite bird's evolution

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The scientists found portions of a pelvis, a nearly complete right femur, a fragment of the left femur and other bones. Details of the bones, and a careful comparison of them to both fossil and modern penguin bones, allowed them to unravel the evolutionary relationships of the new fossil.

Clarke says that a larger, more comprehensive study of the penguin family tree is necessary before the full story of early penguins in the Land of Fire can be told. But she's confident that the discovery will help clarify the timing and pattern of penguin diversification.

"This is the first vertebrate from that distant epoch ever found in Tierra del Fuego," she says. "As modest as these fossilized bones are, they'll tell us a great deal about the morphological evolution of penguins and the travels of these birds some 40 million years ago on a very different planet Earth."


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Contact: Dr. Julia Clarke
julia_clarke@ncsu.edu
919-515-7648
North Carolina State University
12-Feb-2004


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