Related topics: birds

Study recommends special protection of emperor penguins

In a new study published this week (Wednesday 9 October) in the journal Biological Conservation, an international team of researchers recommends the need for additional measures to protect and conserve one of the most iconic ...

March of the multiple penguin genomes

The Penguin Genome Consortium sequences all living penguin species genomes to understand the evolution of life on the ice

Diving to new depths for Antarctic science

A University of Canterbury scientist is using Kiwi technology in her Antarctic research to capture fascinating footage of life beneath the surface in McMurdo Sound.

Human 'footprint' on Antarctica measured for first time

Buildings alone cover more than 390 000 square metres of land while the visual footprint—the areas from which human activity can be seen—extends to more than 93 000 square kilometres.

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Aptenodytes Eudyptes Eudyptula Megadyptes Pygoscelis Spheniscus For prehistoric genera, see Systematics

Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica, where they are most well-known for living. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid, and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend about half of their life on land and half in the oceans.

Although all penguin species are native to the southern hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin live so far south. Several species are found in the temperate zone, and one species, the Galápagos Penguin, lives near the equator.

The largest living species is the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri): adults average about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (75 lb) or more. The smallest penguin species is the Little Blue Penguin (also known as the Fairy Penguin), which stands around 40 cm tall (16 in) and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb). Among extant penguins, larger penguins inhabit colder regions, while smaller penguins are generally found in temperate or even tropical climates (see also Bergmann's Rule). Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human (see below for more). These were not restricted to Antarctic regions; on the contrary, subantarctic regions harboured high diversity, and at least one giant penguin occurred in a region not quite 2,000 km south of the equator 35 mya, in a climate decidedly warmer than today.

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