(ORDO NEWS) — A team of paleontologists and paleogeneticists, led by researcher Teresa Cole of the University of Copenhagen, studied the DNA of existing and extinct penguin species, thanks to which scientists were able to map their biological and genetic evolution. It turned out that the historical homeland of all penguins is New Zealand.
The ancestors of penguins lost their ability to fly during the extinction of the dinosaurs, about 60 million years ago.
Then the penguins inhabited the area, the remnants of the land of which then formed New Zealand. The common ancestor of all modern penguins existed about 14 million years ago.
An analysis of penguin genomes has shown that these birds evolved under the pressure of climatic shifts between warm and cold times.
When the Earth got colder, the penguins settled in the warmer seas in the north, but when the temperature began to rise, the penguins returned closer to the South Pole to live in their optimal temperature.
Scientists have identified genetic traits that helped penguins colonize the entire Southern Hemisphere.
These are, in particular, the genes responsible for temperature regulation, deep-sea diving, sharp vision under water, body streamlining, and so on.
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