Giant ancient penguin was human-size

Story highlights

  • Partial skeletal remains suggest this ancient penguin was 5'10" and weighed 223 pounds
  • Ancient penguins were probably brown, with long beaks

(CNN)Today's adorable penguins waddle across kids' cartoons as comic relief. The cute cold-weather bird is a pitchman for everything from vodka to hockey. But in ancient times, you wouldn't want meet one in person.

The Paleocene penguin was no cute Chilly Willy, according to skeletal remains discovered in New Zealand and discussed Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
The bird could look you right in the eye, being about as tall as an adult human: 1.77 meters, about 5'10". It could box as a heavyweight at 101 kilograms, or about 223 pounds. That makes the bird nearly the same weight as actor Vin Diesel or about 13 pounds shy of President Donald Trump at his last checkup. In contrast, the largest of the modern penguins, the emperor penguin, weighs up to 88 pounds and is a little over 4 feet tall, on average.