Icadyptes salasi

name = "Icadyptes salasi"

image_caption = "Icadyptes salasi"
image_width = 250px
fossil_range = late Eocene
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Sphenisciformes
familia = Spheniscidae
subfamilia = Palaeëudyptinae
genus = "Icadyptes"
species = "I. salasi"
binomial = "Icadyptes salasi"
binomial_authority = Clarke, 2007Cite journal | author = Clarke, Julia A. | coauthors = Daniel T. Ksepka, Marcelo Stucchi, Mario Urbina, Norberto Giannini, Sara Bertelli, Yanina Narváez, and Clint A. Boyd | year = 2007 | title = Paleogene equatorial penguins challenge the proposed relationship between penguin biogeography, body size evolution, and Cenozoic climate change | journal = Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences | date = 2007-06-29 | accessdate = 2007-06-30| url = http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0611099104v1 | doi = 10.1073/pnas.0611099104 | volume = 104 | pages = 11545]

"Icadyptes salasi" was a giant penguin species from the late Eocene period, in the tropics of South America. "Ica" for the Peruvian region where it was found, "dyptes" from the Greek word for diver, and "salasi" for Rodolfo Salas, a noted Peruvian paleontologist.

The fossilised remains of the penguin, which lived 36 million years ago, were found in the coastal desert of Peru by the team of North Carolina State University palaeontologist Dr. Julia Clarke, assistant professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences. Its well-preserved fossil skeleton was found on the southern coast of Peru together with an early Eocene species "Perudyptes devriesi" (comparable in size to the living King penguin), and the remains of three other previously undescribed penguin species, all of which seem to have preferred the tropics over colder latitudes."Perudyptes devriesi" is named after the country, and Thomas DeVries, a Vashon Island High School science teacher [Cite web | url = http://vashonsd.org/teacherweb/devries/ | title = Tom Devries Class Web Page | publisher = Vashon Island School District | accessdate = 2008-01-27] who has long worked in Peru.

Standing 1.5 metres (5 ft) tall, the penguin was much larger than any of its modern-day cousins. It had an exceptionally long spear-like beak resembling that of a heron. The researchers who discovered the penguins believe the long, pointed beaks to be the likely ancestral shape for all penguins. "Icadyptes salasi" is the third largest penguin ever described. [Cite news| url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/25/AR2007062500652.html?nav=hcmodule | title = Giant Penguins May Have Roamed Peru | work = Associated Press via Washington Post | date = 2007-06-25 | accessdate = 2007-06-29]

"Icadyptes salasi" and "Perudyptes devriesi" appear to have flourished at warmer latitudes at a time when world temperatures were at their warmest over the past 65 million years. Only a few modern-day penguins, such as the African and Galapagos penguins prefer such a balmy climate.

The discovery of the fossils has caused a re-evaluation of penguin evolution and expansion. Previously, scientists believed that penguins evolved near the poles in Antarctica and New Zealand, and moved closer to the equator around 10 million years ago. Since "Icadyptes salasi" lived in Peru during a period of great warmth, penguins must have adapted to warm-climates around 30 million years earlier than previously believed. [Cite web| url = http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/2007/june/112.htm | title = March of the Giant Penguins: Fossils Reveal Early Penguins Reaching 5 Ft. Tall Lived Near the Equator During One of Earth’s Warmest Periods | work = North Carolina State University | date = 2007-06-25 | accessdate = 2007-06-29]


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