A penguin fossil discovered in 2006 by a group of New Zealand children on a field trip, according to researchers, comes from a previously undiscovered prehistoric giant penguin.

The animal is described in the journal

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology


The fossil found was one of the most complete skeletons found to date.

The kids belonged to a youth nature club and were on a field trip looking for fossils when they found the penguin's bones.

In 2017, the club donated the bones to the Waikato Museum, which had US experts examine the remains.

The researchers found that the remains belong to a species that lived between 27.3 and 34.6 million years ago.

The animal falls under the genus of the extinct Kairuku penguins, several species of which were discovered in New Zealand in 2012.

The largest Kairuku was about 1.5 meters long.

The specimen found was slightly shorter at about 1.4 meters.

However, the new species has longer legs, leading researchers to name it Kairuku waewaeroa.


means 'long legs' in Maori.