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Palaeospheniscus
Temporal range: Early? - Late Miocene/Early Pliocene
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Subfamily: Palaeospheniscinae
Genus: Palaeospheniscus
Moreno & Mercerat, 1891
Species

Palaeospheniscus patagonicus (type)
Palaeospheniscus wimani (disputed)
Palaeospheniscus gracilis (disputed)
Palaeospheniscus bergi
Palaeospheniscus biloculatus

Synonyms

Neculus Ameghino, 1905
Paraspheniscus Ameghino, 1905
Perispheniscus Ameghino, 1905
Pseudospheniscus Ameghino, 1905
Chubutodyptes Simpson, 1970 (disputed)

Palaeospheniscus is an extinct genus of penguins which contains three species at present. They are all (except P. bergi, which is somewhat enigmatic) known from one or two handful of bones. All specimens were found in Santa Cruz and Chubut Provinces of Patagonia, Argentina. The fossils were recovered from the Patagonian Molasse Formation, and are probably Early Miocene to Late Miocene or possibly Early Pliocene in age (Stucchi et al. 2003). Palaeospheniscus gracilis was long believed to be from the Early Oligocene, but this is now thought to be erroneous. P. gracilis and P. wimani are often considered synonyms of P. patagonicus[citation needed]. Recent researchers also tend to merge Chubutodyptes into this genus as P. biloculatus[citation needed].

The species of Palaeospheniscus were medium-sized to largish penguins, ranging from P. gracilis with an estimated maximal length of 55 cm to P. wimani, which reached up to 73 cm.

Palaeospheniscus is the namesake genus of the subfamily Palaeospheniscinae, the Patagonian slender-footed penguins. These are apparently not closely related to the modern genus Spheniscus.

References

  • Moreno, Francisco & Mercerat, A. (1891): Catálogo de los pájaros fósiles de la República Argentina conservados en el Museo de La Plata. Anales del Museo de La Plata 1: 7-71, 21 plates.
  • Simpson, George Gaylord (1972): Conspectus of Patagonian fossil penguins. American Museum novitates 2488: 1-37. PDF fulltext
  • Stucchi, Marcelo; Urbina, Mario & Giraldo, Alfredo (2003): Una nueva especie de Spheniscidae del Mioceno Tardío de la Formación Pisco, Perú. Bulletin Institut Français d'Études Andines 32(2): 361-375. PDF fulltext




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