Big birds. Really big birds. And other tales of events before our time.


Watching March roll out real winter
Reaction score
Catskill Mountains
On a lark the other day I signed up for one of the NYT's practically endless list of newsletters, having pared down all my email briefs during the winter holidays. Right, so first off the bat this morning while waiting for the morning brew to hit my brain, what do I encounter but a tale of an ancient 350-pound penguin. Seriously? All I could think was thank god I didn't read about that right before going to bed last night. This link has paywall lifted (well.. for two weeks, per the NYT).

Alan Tennyson, a paleontologist at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, discovered the supersize seabird’s bones in 2017. They were deposited on a beach known for large, cannonball-shaped concretions called the Moeraki Boulders. The churn of the tide cracked open several of these 57-million-year-old boulders, revealing bits of fossilized bones inside.

Dr. Tennyson and his colleagues identified the fossilized remains of two large penguins. The humerus of one, at more than nine and a half inches long, was nearly twice the size of those found in emperor penguins, the largest living penguin. Other boulders yielded bones from a smaller, more complete penguin species that also appeared to be larger than a modern emperor penguin.

The researchers described the ancient birds Wednesday in the Journal of Paleontology. They named the larger penguin Kumimanu (a mash-up of the Maori words for “monster” and “bird”) fordycei and named the smaller penguin Petradyptes (“rock diver”) stonehousei.

Anyway for some reason I decided we need a thread about evolution that occurred before humans came down the turnpike. Maybe there are still forks in the road that some critters will consider taking, now that they've had time to realize where we're trying to take the planet.

So here's the thread... feel free to add other wakeup calls that may have escaped my attention. :giggle:


Site Champ
Reaction score
Scientists gave the drug Ecstasy (MDMA) to octopuses and got them high. They reacted much the same way that humans do, becoming more social, interacting with each other, and playing with their toys. This is in contrast to their normal behavior, being generally loners.

As amusing as it is to think of octopuses getting high as the moon, cuddling each other with their tentacles, there is interesting science behind this. MDMA primarily binds to the serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters, with a lesser impact on dopamine.

Why this is important, evolutionarily, is that MDMA acts similarly for both a human and an octopus. Humans and octopuses diverged from the same animal line 518 million years ago. That means that these neurotransmitters have been a fundamental part of complex life on planet Earth for at least half a billion years, and perhaps much longer. Therefore, it's likely that most animals alive today share that biology, to some degree, and that these neurotransmitters have played a key roll in evolutionary development since the Cambrian explosion.
Top Bottom
1 2