STL Science Center

STL Science Center

17 December 2015

Sometimes It Is

Popularity because of popularity sounds funny, but it is a theme that has been addressed here many times before. Perhaps too many time in fact. The fact with fossil animals, though, is that sometimes they are famous just for being famous. The penguins discussed this week fall into that exact category as nothing makes them exceptionally famous except that they are well known for being giant fossil penguins. To anatomists and ornithologists they are amazing specimens of the early radiation and specialization of the penguin family. They are testaments to the anatomical organization of penguins in that they provide us with a first indication of anatomy that is still readily employed by extant penguins; adaptations that have changed little in 36 million years are obviously well situated to working in the role and environments in which they are employed. Regardless of how they are touted, both of these animals were indeed kings of the water in their day, in the bird world. They remain important and amazing in our view today.

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