Giant parrots, giant bats, giant eagles and giant penguins.

New Zealand is well known for its strange and long-lost creatures that reached huge sizes in our prehistoric wilderness - and the likely evolutionary drivers have varied.

Among them: a remote and isolated ecosystem, a lack of predators or competition, and what one palaeoecologist likened to a "job vacancy" that needed filling.



This morning, a team of scientists unveiled the Crossvallia waiparensis: a 1.6m-tall penguin from the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 and 56 million years ago.

Identified from fossils found at Waipara Greensand, a fossil treasure trove in