Megadyptes waitaha ssp. waitaha Boessenkool et al.

Waitaha Penguin (Megadyptes waitaha ssp. waitaha 

This species was described in 2009 based on numerous subfossil remains that were found on New Zealand’s South Island as well as on Stewart Island.  

These bones were originally assigned to the recent Yellow-eyed Penguin, locally known as Hoiho (Megadyptes antipodes (Hombron & Jacquinot)) (see photo), but were found not only to be smaller but also to differ genetically.  

The Waitaha Penguin disappeared shortly after the colonization of New Zealand by the Maori, sometimes between 1300 and 1500 AD. [1]  


Only some 200 years after the extinction, the species was replaced by immigrating Yellow-eyed Penguins, whose main island populations are now threatened likewise with extinction, mainly by introduced predators. [2]  



[1] Sanne Boessenkool; Jeremy J. Austin; Trevor H. Worthy; Paul Scofield; Alan Cooper; Philip J. Seddon; Jonathan M. Waters: Relict or colonizer? Extinction and range expansion of penguins in southern New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276(1658): 815–821. 2009 
[2] Nicolas J. Rawlence; George L. W. Perry; Ian W. G. Smith; R. Paul Scofield; Alan J. D. Tennyson; Elizabeth A. Matisoo-Smith; Sanne Boessenkool; Jeremy J. Austin; Jonathan M. Waters: Radiocarbon-dating and ancient DNA reveal rapid replacement of extinct prehistoric penguins: Quaternary Science Reviews 112: 59-65. 2015  


Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)

Photo: Twiddlebat 

(under creative commons license (2.0))


edited: 06.11.2017