Related topics: birds

Same-sex behavior seen in nearly all animals

Same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in the animal kingdom, common across species, from worms to frogs to birds, concludes a new review of existing research.

When penguins ruled after dinosaurs died

What waddled on land but swam supremely in subtropical seas more than 60 million years ago, after the dinosaurs were wiped out on sea and land?

Keeping warm: Coordinated movements in a penguin huddle

To survive temperatures below -50 C and gale-force winds above 180 km/h during the Antarctic winter, Emperor penguins form tightly packed huddles and, as has recently been discovered – the penguins actually coordinate ...

Adelie penguin numbers may expand as glaciers retreat

Shrinking glaciers could lead to increasing numbers of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in East Antarctica, according to research published in the open access journal, BMC Evolutionary Biology.

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Penguin

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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