Penguins originated on a sunken continent

Multiple climatic fluctuations over the past 60 million years have led to the evolution of modern penguins. A team led by Teresa L. Koll of the University of Copenhagen came to this conclusion based on a comprehensive analysis of penguin fossils and the genes of modern animals. As the working group reports in the journal Nature Communications., the group of fauna originated in the now largely submerged Microcontinental Zealand, of which only New Zealand remains above the water surface. Today’s penguins arose about 14 million years ago, when great cooling led to a small mass extinction and the formation of the East Antarctic ice sheet.

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