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Evolution: development

The question if penguins evolved from non-flying ancestors or just are birds who lost their aviation during time, caused a lot of debating among ornithologists. Nowadays it is generally agreed that penguin flippers are reconstructed wings and they evolved from flying birds indeed.
Closer research of the skeleton and the composition of the proteins proved that the closest relatives of penguins are the Procellariiformes (Albatross, petrels and gulls).
And although penguins look quite like him, the Great Auk, who gave up the power to fly and is already extinct, is not a relative, opposed to earlier opinions.

Especially worth mentioning is the fact that penguins ended their evolution under then tropical conditions. The theory that Antarctica was already covered with ice since 15 million of years, has been disproved during the Antarctic summer of 1990/1991 by a team of scientists, under the leadership of Prof. Webb of the Ohio State University. They found fossilised leaves in a desert of stones, only 400 km from the South pole. This proves that, despite the common opinion, "the White Continent" was covered with trees, only 3 million years ago. Combined with other indications, this points to the theory that Antarctica has a very turbulent prehistory and that it contracts and expands, in proportion to the climate-changes.

next chapter: fossils
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