Xmas news for penguins

The Advent news flash for penguins — the fossil giant penguin Kumimanu biceae — and then today, a small Vera Bradley playful-penguin case (with pill dispenser) and a Munsingwear Penguin t-shirt (with flowered pocket), Christmas gifts to me (just one Playful Penguin Gray case from Vera Bradley products and just one item from a ton of stuff in the Munsingwear Penguin line).

A giant among penguins swam the ancient seas. Brought to my attention by several friends. Here’s the story from NPR: “Giant Prehistoric Penguins Once Swam Off The Coast Of New Zealand” by Rhitu Chatterjee on 12/12:

(#1) An illustration comparing the giant penguin to an average person. Kumimanu biceae weighed about 220 pounds and was a bit shorter than 6 feet in height. It swam around off the coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago.

An international team of scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of prehistoric penguin.

The bird waddled around off the east coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago. And it was a giant as far as penguins go. The researchers estimate that it probably weighed about 220 pounds and was around 5 feet 10 inches tall. [That is, it was pretty much my size.]

“That’s about as tall as a medium-sized man,” says Gerald Mayr, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Franfurt, Germany, and the lead author of the new study published today in Nature Communications. “This particular specimen is one of the largest known fossil penguins.”

The largest living penguin, on the other hand, the Emperor penguin, is a good bit shorter — around 4 feet.

The scientists have named the new species Kumimanu biceae, which means ‘monster bird’ in the Maori language. (Kumi is the name of a monster in Maori mythology and manu means bird.)

… What this new species shows is that penguins evolved to be big very early in their evolution, says Ewan Fordyce, a paleontologist at the University of Otago, New Zealand, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

“It’s a few million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs,” says Fordyce. With the giant reptiles gone, it may have opened “new ecological opportunities” to birds like penguins, allowing them to break through “a glass ceiling of evolutionary size,” he says.

The oceans may also have allowed penguins to get so big.

“Giant penguins were occupying the seas about 20 million years before whales entered the oceans,” she says. No whales, no seals, no marine mammals.

And scientists think that large marine mammals — whales, walruses, seals — are why giant penguins eventually became extinct, leaving us with the smaller, cuter birds we all adore.

The Vera Bradley case and the Munsingwear t-shirt. My little family — including Opal Armstrong Zwicky, visiting from school in frosty New England — had its customary Xmas dim sum lunch at Tai Pan (Hong Kong cuisine, a few blocks from my house), and there I got an assortment of little gifts, two of them on penguin themes.

The little Vera Bradley case doesn’t photograph well, but here’s a penguin-heavy Xmas ad from the company:


Playful Penguins Gray is one of their patterns, and many items are available in it. For instance, this Campus Tech Backpack:


As for the Munsingwear Penguin line, from Wikipedia (company fluff somewhat edited down):

(#4) The Penguin logo

Original Penguin (also known simply as Penguin) is an American clothing line. With roots in the 1950s and 60s, the brand specializes in clothing, footwear, and eyewear. It is sold in North America, South America, Central America, and Europe. Image models included Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Adam Brody as well as the members of Interpol, Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, and All-American Rejects’ frontman, Tyson Ritter, also the favorite brand of the famous pianist Michael Salazar.

The brand was introduced in 1955 by Munsingwear, a Minneapolis-based underwear and military garment manufacturer, when it launched the Original Penguin golf shirt in the United States. Munsingwear was for many years famous for its union suits, an undergarment consisting of an undershirt and underdrawers combined in a single garment. The company was also said to be the originator of the classic golf shirt.

In 1954 the Munsingwear salesman covering the northeast coast brought a fluffy stuffed penguin to a meeting in Minneapolis, where a logo for a new idea in golf shirts to go up against Lacoste’s popular shirts was the subject at hand. At the meeting was Len Birnbaum, art director at Munsingwear’s Chicago-based ad agency… Munsingwear made T-shirts and underwear, but their weaving machines also produced the same kind of material that Lacoste used for their golf shirt, a big seller at $7.50 each, in the 1950s.

… After the meeting, artist Birnbaum returned to Chicago and within 24 hours had sent sketches of a proposed logo to the Munsingwear executives. The new logo was adopted, the shirt hit the market at $5.00 and was successful. It was worn by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby for publicity, but the real advertising featured golfers Arnold Palmer, Dow Finsterwald and Jack Burke, Jr. About three years later Munsingwear introduced a second line of shirts for bowlers and Birnbaum came up with a bowling penguin… [The] golf shirt became a symbol in suburban leisure until well into the 1980s. In 1996 the brand was bought by Perry Ellis International, and a new sportswear collection was released in Spring 2003.

Original Penguin is sold in upscale and mid-priced department stores … and in regional boutiques, country clubs, and specialty stores. The company also established several standalone boutiques across the nation, which carry clothing by C&C and Levi’s jeans as well as Original Penguin apparel.

A great success in the penguin business.

Here’s a Big Penguin t-shirt (but without a pocket; I need a pocket, for my notebook and pen):


My own t-shirt is midnight blue, with a Penguin-logo flowered pocket (which looks violet in this photo):


The company now also offers eau de toilette for men:


and shoes:


and pants, shorts, jackets, etc.

Vera Bradley is mostly aimed at women, Munsingwear at men, but neither is resolutely unigender.

One Response to “Xmas news for penguins”

  1. Original Penguin Pride | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] on this blog, with a section on the Munsingwear Original Penguin line, with illustrations: my 12/25/17 posting “Xmas news for […]

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