Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand

I just blogged about giant fleas in the Jurassic.  Now, I’ve got to mention the giant Penguin that has just been reconstructed from fossils found in New Zealand.  The penguin lived about 26 million years ago and does not look like any modern penguins.  It was about 1.3 m tall (approximately 50 inches), and weighed about 60 kg (around 132 lbs), which is about 50% larger than the biggest modern penguins.

It also had vestigial wings, much larger than current day penguins, which might indicate an intermediate species between the common ancestor to all birds and the modern species.  Based on its body shape, it probably could go deeper and faster than modern penguins.

via Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand | Science | guardian.co.uk.

Super-sized fleas adapted to feed off dinosaurs

Scientists have found fossils of huge fleas that dined on dinosaur blood.  Modern fleas are about 1-10 mm in length, but Cretaceous fleas were between 8-21 mm (not really big, but a 21 mm flea would devour your pet dog quickly).  Also they have armored jaws, apparently to dig into dinosaur hide.

So the next time you watch Jurassic Park, think of those giant fleas that show up!

via Super-sized fleas adapted to feed off dinosaurs : Nature News & Comment.

Limbless amphibian family discovered in India

Although the animals in the picture look like the common earthworms, they are actually a new family of legless amphibians that live in the soil in India.  Researchers in India have discovered seven new species of the family deep in the soil.

Apparently, these rather ugly amphibians grow up to a meter long.  I’m not sure I’d want to find one in my backyard soil.

via Nature News Blog: Limbless amphibian family discovered in India.