If East Africa is considered to be the ancestral home of man, then the ancestral home of all penguins in the world is Zeeland, the now non-existent eighth continent. This is the conclusion reached by scientists from Massey University in New Zealand. They recently discovered and studied the oldest fossilized remains of the penguin, which is recognized as the common ancestor of the existing species.
The find was made in the Taranaki area, on a rocky coast that is difficult to access. The age of the preserved skull was estimated at 3 million years, which immediately turns the whole picture upside down - no one has ever found the bones of penguins older than 7 thousand years. This means that penguins lived in New Zealand for a very long time, and could well have lived on the ancient continent of Zealand, which went under water 20-30 million years ago. It is unlikely that the found individual belongs to the progenitors of modern penguins, but it is definitely an intermediate link in the evolutionary series.
But why couldn't prehistoric penguins come to Zealand from somewhere else? The fact is that modern New Zealand is a kind of nature reserve not only for penguins, but also for seabirds in general. Of the 80 species living here, more than a third are endemic, because the conditions on the islands are ideal for these birds. Old Zealand gradually sank under water, which forced living things to adapt to life at the water's edge, and the current species is a natural result of this evolutionary process.
The new type of penguin was named Eudyptes atatu, where the word "Eudyptes" means crested penguins, and "atatu" is derived from the Maori word "ata tu", which means dawn, the beginning of something new. Researchers do not exclude that penguins could have appeared on Zealand 60 million years ago, when the huge continent with an area of 4.9 million square kilometers had not yet disappeared under the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Sunken continent of Zealand