For prehistoric genera, see Systematics
Range of penguins, all species (aqua)
Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of
aquatic, flightless birds. They live almost exclusively in the
Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos penguin,
found north of the equator. Highly adapted for life in the water,
penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings
have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid
and other forms of sea life caught while swimming underwater. They
spend about half of their lives on land and half in the oceans.
Although almost 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): on average, adults are about 1.1 m (3 ft
7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (77 lb). The smallest
penguin species is the little blue penguin (
Eudyptula minor), also
known as the fairy penguin, which stands around 40 cm
(16 in) tall 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. These were not
Antarctic regions; on the contrary, subantarctic regions
harboured high diversity, and at least one giant penguin occurred in a
region around 2,000 km south of the equator 35 mya, in a
climate decidedly warmer than today.
2 Systematics and evolution
2.1 Living species and recent extinctions
2.4.1 Basal fossils
2.4.3 Origin and systematics of modern penguins
2.4.4 Relationship to other bird orders
Anatomy and physiology
3.1 Isabelline penguins
4 Distribution and habitat
6 Penguins and humans
6.1 In popular culture
9 External links
The word penguin first appears in the 16th century as a synonym for
great auk. When European explorers discovered what are today known
as penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, they noticed their similar
appearance to the great auk of the Northern Hemisphere, and named them
after this bird, although they are not closely related.
The etymology of the word penguin is still debated. The English word
is not apparently of French, Breton or Spanish origin (the
latter two are attributed to the French word pingouin "auk"), but
first appears in English or Dutch.
Some dictionaries suggest a derivation from Welsh pen, "head" and
gwyn, "white", including the Oxford English Dictionary, the
American Heritage Dictionary, the Century Dictionary and
Merriam-Webster, on the basis that the name was originally applied
to the great auk, either because it was found on White Head Island
(Welsh Pen Gwyn) in Newfoundland, or because it had white circles
around its eyes (though the head was black).
An alternative etymology links the word to Latin pinguis, which means
"fat" or "oil". Support for this etymology can be found in the
alternative Germanic word for penguin, fettgans or "fat-goose", and
the related Dutch word vetgans.
Systematics and evolution
Living species and recent extinctions
Adélie penguin (
Pygoscelis adeliae) feeding young. Like its
relatives, a neatly bi-coloured species with a head marking.
Magellanic penguins (
Spheniscus magellanicus). The closed neck collar
denotes this species.
Closeup of southern rockhopper penguin (
Two king penguins and one gentoo penguin walking on a beach on South
Georgia, British overseas territory
The number of extant penguin species is debated. Depending on which
authority is followed, penguin biodiversity varies between 17 and 20
living species, all in the subfamily Spheniscinae. Some sources
consider the white-flippered penguin a separate
while others treat it as a subspecies of the little penguin;
the actual situation seems to be more complicated. Similarly, it
is still unclear whether the royal penguin is merely a color morph of
the macaroni penguin. The status of the rockhopper penguins is also
Updated after Marples (1962), Acosta Hospitaleche (2004), and
Ksepka et al. (2006).
Spheniscinae – modern penguins
Aptenodytes – great penguins
Pygoscelis – brush-tailed penguins
Eudyptula – little penguins
Little blue penguin,
Australian little penguin,
Eudyptula albosignata (provisional)
Spheniscus – banded penguins
Megadyptes waitaha (extinct)
Eudyptes – crested penguins
Western rockhopper penguin,
Eastern rockhopper penguin,
Northern rockhopper penguin,
Eudyptes schlegeli (disputed)
Eudyptes chathamensis (extinct)
Phylogeny of Spheniscidae
Basal and unresolved taxa (all fossil)
Anthropodyptes (Middle Miocene)
Arthrodytes (San Julian Late Eocene/
Early Oligocene – Patagonia
Miocene of Patagonia, Argentina)
Aprosdokitos Hospitaleche, Reguero & Santillana 2017
Crossvallia (Cross Valley Late
Paleocene of Seymour Island,
Ichthyopteryx Wiman 1905
Inguza (Late Pliocene)
Kaiika Fordyce & Tomas 2011 (Maxwell's penguin)
Oligocene of S Canterbury, New Zealand)
Pliocene of Duinfontain, South Africa)
Orthopteryx Wiman 1905
Palaeoapterodytes (Late Oligocene/Early
Miocene of Argentina)
Pseudaptenodytes (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene)
Tasidyptes Van Tets & O’Connor 1983 nomen dubium (Hunter Island
Pliocene of New Zealand)
Early Oligocene of Seymour Island,
Early Oligocene of Seymour Island,
A reconstruction of the ancient penguin Icadyptes
Waimanu Jones, Ando & Fordyce 2006 (Middle-Late Paleocene)
Kumimanu Mayr, 2017
Delphinornis Wiman 1905 (Middle/Late Eocene? –
Early Oligocene of
Seymour Island, Antarctica)
Marambiornis Myrcha et al. 2002 (Late
Early Oligocene of
Seymour Island, Antarctica)
Mesetaornis Myrcha et al. 2002 (Late
Early Oligocene of
Seymour Island, Antarctica)
Perudyptes Clarke et al. 2007 (Middle
Eocene of Atacama Desert, Peru)
Anthropornis Wiman 1905 (Middle Eocene? –
Early Oligocene of Seymour
Palaeeudyptes Huxley 1859 (Middle/Late
Eocene – Late Oligocene)
Icadyptes Clarke et al. 2007 (Late
Eocene of Atacama Desert, Peru)
Pachydyptes Oliver 1930 (Late Eocene)
Inkayacu Clarke et al. 2010 (Late
Eocene of South America)
Kairuku Ksepka et al. 2012 (Late
Oligocene of E South Island, New
Paraptenodytes Ameghino 1891 (Early – Late Miocene/Early Pliocene)
Archaeospheniscus Marples 1952 (Middle/Late
Eocene – Late Oligocene)
Duntroonornis Marples 1953 (Late
Oligocene of Otago, New Zealand)
Platydyptes Marples 1952 (Late
Oligocene of New Zealand)
Dege Simpson 1979 (Early
Pliocene of South Africa) – possibly
Marplesornis Simpson 1972 (Early Pliocene)
Palaeospheniscinae (slender-footed penguins) (fossil)
Eretiscus Olson 1986 (
Miocene of Patagonia, Argentina)
Palaeospheniscus Moreno & Mercerat 1891 (Early? – Late
Miocene/Early Pliocene) – includes Chubutodyptes
Spheniscidae gen. et sp. indet. CADIC P 21 (Leticia Middle
Punta Torcida, Argentina)
Spheniscidae gen. et sp. indet. (Late Oligocene/Early
Hakataramea, New Zealand)
Madrynornis (Puerto Madryn Late
Miocene of Argentina)
Early Oligocene genus
Cruschedula was formerly thought to belong
to Spheniscidae, however reexamination of the holotype in 1943
resulted in the genus being placed in Accipitridae. Further
examination in 1980 resulted in placement as Aves incertae sedis.
Some recent sources apply the phylogenetic taxon Spheniscidae
to what here is referred to as Spheniscinae. Furthermore, they
restrict the phylogenetic taxon Sphenisciformes to flightless taxa,
and establish the phylogenetic taxon Pansphenisciformes as equivalent
to the Linnean taxon Sphenisciformes, i.e., including any flying
basal "proto-penguins" to be discovered eventually. Given that neither
the relationships of the penguin subfamilies to each other nor the
placement of the penguins in the avian phylogeny is presently
resolved, this is confusing, so the established Linnean system is
Penguin tracks in the sand on Bruny Island, Tasmania
The evolutionary history of penguins is well-researched and represents
a showcase of evolutionary biogeography; though as penguin bones of
any one species vary much in size and few good specimens are known,
the alpha taxonomy of many prehistoric forms still leaves much to be
desired. Some seminal articles about penguin prehistory have been
published since 2005; the evolution of the living
genera can be considered resolved by now.
The basal penguins lived around the time of the Cretaceous–Paleogene
extinction event somewhere in the general area of (southern) New
Zealand and Byrd Land, Antarctica. Due to plate tectonics, these
areas were at that time less than 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) apart
rather than the 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi) of today. The most
recent common ancestor of penguins and their sister clade can be
roughly dated to the Campanian–
Maastrichtian boundary, around
70–68 mya. What can be said as certainly as possible in
the absence of direct (i.e., fossil) evidence is that, by the end of
the Cretaceous, the penguin lineage must have been evolutionarily well
distinct, though much less so morphologically; it is fairly likely
that they were not yet entirely flightless at that time, as flightless
birds have generally low resilience to the breakdown of trophic webs
that follows the initial phase of mass extinctions because of their
below-average dispersal capabilities (see also Flightless
The oldest known fossil penguin species is
Waimanu manneringi, which
lived in the early
Paleocene epoch of New Zealand, or about 62
mya. While they were not as well-adapted to aquatic life as modern
Waimanu were generally loon-like birds but already
flightless, with short wings adapted for deep diving. They swam on
the surface using mainly their feet, but the wings were – as opposed
to most other diving birds (both living and extinct) already adapting
to underwater locomotion.
Perudyptes from northern
Peru was dated to 42 mya. An unnamed fossil
Argentina proves that, by the
Bartonian (Middle Eocene), some
39–38 mya, primitive penguins had spread to
South America and
were in the process of expanding into
During the Late
Eocene and the
Early Oligocene (40–30 mya), some
lineages of gigantic penguins existed. Nordenskjoeld's giant penguin
was the tallest, growing nearly 1.80 meters (5.9 feet) tall. The New
Zealand giant penguin was probably the heaviest, weighing 80 kg
or more. Both were found on New Zealand, the former also in the
Antarctic farther eastwards.
Traditionally, most extinct species of penguins, giant or small, had
been placed in the paraphyletic subfamily called Palaeeudyptinae. More
recently, with new taxa being discovered and placed in the phylogeny
if possible, it is becoming accepted that there were at least two
major extinct lineages. One or two closely related ones occurred in
Patagonia, and at least one other—which is or includes the
paleeudyptines as recognized today – occurred on most
But size plasticity seems to have been great at this initial stage of
penguin radiation: on Seymour Island, Antarctica, for example, around
10 known species of penguins ranging in size from medium to huge
apparently coexisted some 35 mya during the
Eocene). It is not even known whether the gigantic palaeeudyptines
constitute a monophyletic lineage, or whether gigantism was evolved
independently in a much restricted
Palaeeudyptinae and the
Anthropornithinae – whether they were considered valid, or whether
there was a wide size range present in the
delimited as usually done these days (i.e., including Anthropornis
nordenskjoeldi). The oldest well-described giant penguin, the
5-foot (1.5 m)-tall
Icadyptes salasi, actually occurred as far
north as northern
Peru about 36 mya.
In any case, the gigantic penguins had disappeared by the end of the
Paleogene, around 25 mya. Their decline and disappearance coincided
with the spread of the Squalodontoidea and other primitive,
fish-eating toothed whales, which certainly competed with them for
food, and were ultimately more successful. A new lineage, the
Paraptenodytes, which includes smaller but decidedly stout-legged
forms, had already arisen in southernmost
South America by that time.
Neogene saw the emergence of yet another morphotype in the
same area, the similarly sized but more gracile Palaeospheniscinae, as
well as the radiation that gave rise to the penguin biodiversity of
Origin and systematics of modern penguins
Modern penguins constitute two undisputed clades and another two more
basal genera with more ambiguous relationships. The origin of the
Spheniscinae lies probably in the latest Paleogene, and geographically
it must have been much the same as the general area in which the order
evolved: the oceans between the Australia-
New Zealand region and the
Antarctic. Presumably diverging from other penguins around 40
mya, it seems that the
Spheniscinae were for quite some time
limited to their ancestral area, as the well-researched deposits of
Antarctic Peninsula and
Patagonia have not yielded Paleogene
fossils of the subfamily. Also, the earliest spheniscine lineages are
those with the most southern distribution.
Aptenodytes appears to be the basalmost divergence among
living penguins they have bright yellow-orange neck, breast,
and bill patches; incubate by placing their eggs on their feet, and
when they hatch the chicks are almost naked. This genus has a
distribution centered on the
Antarctic coasts and barely extends to
Subantarctic islands today.
Pygoscelis contains species with a fairly simple black-and-white head
pattern; their distribution is intermediate, centered on Antarctic
coasts but extending somewhat northwards from there. In external
morphology, these apparently still resemble the common ancestor of the
Spheniscinae, as Aptenodytes' autapomorphies are in most cases fairly
pronounced adaptations related to that genus' extreme habitat
conditions. As the former genus,
Pygoscelis seems to have diverged
during the Bartonian, but the range expansion and radiation that
led to the present-day diversity probably did not occur until much
later; around the
Burdigalian stage of the Early Miocene, roughly
Eudyptula contain species with a mostly
Subantarctic distribution centered on South America; some, however,
range quite far northwards. They all lack carotenoid coloration, and
the former genus has a conspicuous banded head pattern; they are
unique among living penguins by nesting in burrows. This group
probably radiated eastwards with the
Antarctic Circumpolar Current out
of the ancestral range of modern penguins throughout the Chattian
(Late Oligocene), starting approximately 28 mya. While the two
genera separated during this time, the present-day diversity is the
result of a
Pliocene radiation, taking place some 4–2 mya.
Eudyptes clade occurs at similar latitudes (though
not as far north as the Galapagos penguin), has its highest diversity
New Zealand region, and represents a westward dispersal. They
are characterized by hairy yellow ornamental head feathers; their
bills are at least partly red. These two genera diverged apparently in
Miocene (Langhian, roughly 15–14 mya), but again, the
living species of
Eudyptes are the product of a later radiation,
stretching from about the late
Tortonian (Late Miocene, 8 mya) to the
end of the Pliocene.
The geographical and temporal pattern or spheniscine evolution
corresponds closely to two episodes of global cooling documented in
the paleoclimatic record. The emergence of the Subantarctic
lineage at the end of the
Bartonian corresponds with the onset of the
slow period of cooling that eventually led to the ice ages some 35
million years later. With habitat on the
Antarctic coasts declining,
Priabonian more hospitable conditions for most penguins existed
Subantarctic regions rather than in
Notably, the cold
Antarctic Circumpolar Current also started as a
continuous circumpolar flow only around 30 mya, on the one hand
Antarctic cooling, and on the other facilitating the
eastward expansion of
South America and eventually
beyond. Despite this, there is no fossil evidence to support the
idea of a crown radiation from the
Antarctic continent in the
Paleogene, although DNA study favors such a radiation.
Later, an interspersed period of slight warming was ended by the
Miocene Climate Transition, a sharp drop in global average
temperature from 14–12 mya, and similar abrupt cooling events
followed at 8 mya and 4 mya; by the end of the Tortonian, the
Antarctic ice sheet was already much like today in volume and extent.
The emergence of most of today's
Subantarctic penguin species almost
certainly was caused by this sequence of
Neogene climate shifts.
Relationship to other bird orders
Penguin ancestry beyond
Waimanu remains unknown and not well-resolved
by molecular or morphological analyses. The latter tend to be
confounded by the strong adaptive autapomorphies of the
Sphenisciformes; a sometimes perceived fairly close relationship
between penguins and grebes is almost certainly an error based on both
groups' strong diving adaptations, which are homoplasies. On the other
DNA sequence datasets do not agree in detail with each
Humboldt penguins in an aquarium. The penguin is an accomplished
swimmer, having flippers instead of wings.
What seems clear is that penguins belong to a clade of
birds except paleognaths and fowl) that comprises what is sometimes
called "higher waterbirds" to distinguish them from the more ancient
waterfowl. This group contains such birds as storks, rails, and the
seabirds, with the possible exception of the Charadriiformes.
Inside this group, penguin relationships are far less clear. Depending
on the analysis and dataset, a close relationship to Ciconiiformes
or to Procellariiformes has been suggested. Some think the
penguin-like plotopterids (usually considered relatives of anhingas
and cormorants) may actually be a sister group of the penguins, and
that penguins may have ultimately shared a common ancestor with the
Pelecaniformes and consequently would have to be included in that
order, or that the plotopterids were not as close to other
pelecaniforms as generally assumed, which would necessitate splitting
Pelecaniformes in three.
A 2014 analysis of whole genomes of 48 representative bird species has
concluded that penguins are the sister group of Procellariiformes,
from which they diverged about 60 million years ago (95% CI,
The distantly related puffins, which live in the North Pacific and
North Atlantic, developed similar characteristics to survive in the
Arctic and sub-Arctic environments. Like the penguins, puffins have a
white chest, black back and short stubby wings providing excellent
swimming ability in icy water. But, unlike penguins, puffins can fly,
as flightless birds would not survive alongside land-based predators
such as polar bears and foxes; there are no such predators in the
Antarctic. Their similarities indicate that similar environments,
although at great distances, can result in similar evolutionary
developments, i.e. convergent evolution.
Anatomy and physiology
Orcas swim by an iceberg with Adélie penguins in the Ross Sea,
Drygalski ice tongue
Drygalski ice tongue is visible in the background.
Taxidermized penguin skin
Penguins are superbly adapted to aquatic life. Their vestigial wings
have become flippers, useless for flight in the air. In the water,
however, penguins are astonishingly agile. Penguins' swimming looks
very similar to bird's flight in the air. Within the smooth
plumage a layer of air is preserved, ensuring buoyancy. The air layer
also helps insulate the birds in cold waters. On land, penguins use
their tails and wings to maintain balance for their upright stance.
All penguins are countershaded for camouflage – that is, they have
black backs and wings with white fronts. A predator looking up
from below (such as an orca or a leopard seal) has difficulty
distinguishing between a white penguin belly and the reflective water
surface. The dark plumage on their backs camouflages them from above.
Diving penguins reach 6 to 12 km/h (3.7 to 7.5 mph), though
there are reports of velocities of 27 km/h (17 mph) (which
are more realistic in the case of startled flight).
The small penguins do not usually dive deep; they catch their prey
near the surface in dives that normally last only one or two minutes.
Larger penguins can dive deep in case of need. Dives of the large
emperor penguin have been recorded reaching a depth of 565 m
(1,854 ft) for up to 22 minutes.
Penguins either waddle on their feet or slide on their bellies across
the snow while using their feet to propel and steer themselves, a
movement called "tobogganing", which conserves energy while moving
quickly. They also jump with both feet together if they want to move
more quickly or cross steep or rocky terrain.
Penguins have an average sense of hearing for birds; this is used
by parents and chicks to locate one another in crowded colonies.
Their eyes are adapted for underwater vision, and are their primary
means of locating prey and avoiding predators; in air it has been
suggested that they are nearsighted, although research has not
supported this hypothesis.
Gentoo penguin swimming underwater at Nagasaki
Penguins have a thick layer of insulating feathers that keeps them
warm in water (heat loss in water is much greater than in air). The
emperor penguin has the largest body mass of all penguins, which
further reduces relative surface area and heat loss. They also are
able to control blood flow to their extremities, reducing the amount
of blood that gets cold, but still keeping the extremities from
freezing. In the extreme cold of the
Antarctic winter, the females are
at sea fishing for food leaving the males to brave the weather by
themselves. They often huddle together to keep warm and rotate
positions to make sure that each penguin gets a turn in the center of
the heat pack.
Calculations of the heat loss and retention ability of marine
endotherms  suggest that most extant penguins are too small to
survive in such cold environments. In 2007, Thomas and Fordyce
wrote about the "heterothermic loophole" that penguins utilize in
order to survive in Antarctica. All extant penguins, even those
that live in warmer climates, have a counter-current heat exchanger
called the humeral plexus. The flippers of penguins have at least
three branches of the axillary artery, which allows cold blood to be
heated by blood that has already been warmed and limits heat loss from
the flippers. This system allows penguins to efficiently use their
body heat and explains why such small animals can survive in the
They can drink salt water because their supraorbital gland filters
excess salt from the bloodstream. The salt is excreted in
a concentrated fluid from the nasal passages.
The great auk of the Northern Hemisphere, now extinct, was
superficially similar to penguins, and the word penguin was originally
used for that bird, centuries ago. They are only distantly related to
the penguins, but are an example of convergent evolution.
Adélie penguin on Gourdin Island.
Perhaps one in 50,000 penguins (of most species) are born with brown
rather than black plumage. These are called isabelline penguins.
Isabellinism is different from albinism. Isabelline penguins tend to
live shorter lives than normal penguins, as they are not
well-camouflaged against the deep, and are often passed over as mates.
Distribution and habitat
See also: List of Sphenisciformes by population
Although almost 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 actually live so
far south. Several species live in the temperate zone; one, the
Galápagos penguin, lives as far north as the Galápagos Islands, but
this is only made possible by the cold, rich waters of the Antarctic
Humboldt Current that flows around these islands.
Several authors have suggested that penguins are a good example of
Bergmann's Rule where larger bodied populations live at higher
latitudes than smaller bodied populations. There is some disagreement
about this, and several other authors have noted that there are fossil
penguin species that contradict this hypothesis and that ocean
currents and upwellings are likely to have had a greater effect on
species diversity than latitude alone.
Major populations of penguins are found in Angola, Antarctica,
Argentina, Australia, Chile, Namibia, New Zealand, and South
Chinstrap penguins in Antarctica.
Gentoo watching over a sleeping chick at Brown Bluff
Penguins for the most part breed in large colonies, the exceptions
being the yellow-eyed and Fiordland species; these colonies may range
in size from as few as a 100 pairs for gentoo penguins, to several
hundred thousand in the case of king, macaroni and chinstrap
penguins. Living in colonies results in a high level of social
interaction between birds, which has led to a large repertoire of
visual as well as vocal displays in all penguin species. Agonistic
displays are those intended to confront or drive off, or alternately
appease and avoid conflict with, other individuals.
Penguins form monogamous pairs for a breeding season, though the rate
the same pair recouples varies drastically. Most penguins lay two eggs
in a clutch, although the two largest species, the emperor and the
king penguins, lay only one. With the exception of the emperor
penguin, where the male does it all, all penguins share the incubation
duties. These incubation shifts can last days and even weeks as
one member of the pair feeds at sea.
Penguins generally only lay one brood; the exception is the little
penguin, which can raise two or three broods in a season.
Penguin eggs are smaller than any other bird species when compared
proportionally to the weight of the parent birds; at 52 g
(2 oz), the little penguin egg is 4.7% of its mothers' weight,
and the 450 g (1 lb) emperor penguin egg is 2.3%. The
relatively thick shell forms between 10 and 16% of the weight of a
penguin egg, presumably to reduce the effects of dehydration and to
minimize the risk of breakage in an adverse nesting environment.
The yolk, too, is large, and comprises 22–31% of the egg. Some yolk
often remains when a chick is born, and is thought to help sustain the
chick if the parents are delayed in returning with food.
When mothers lose a chick, they sometimes attempt to "steal" another
mother's chick, usually unsuccessfully as other females in the
vicinity assist the defending mother in keeping her chick.[citation
needed] In some species, such as emperor penguins, young penguins
assemble in large groups called crèches.
Penguins and humans
A cook on the Endurance preparing a penguin for consumption
A penguin encounters a human during
Penguins seem to have no special fear of humans, and have approached
groups of explorers without hesitation. This is probably because
penguins have no land predators in
Antarctica or the nearby offshore
islands. Dogs preyed upon penguins while they were allowed in
Antarctica during the age of early human exploration as sled dogs, but
dogs are now banned from Antarctica. Instead, adult penguins are
at risk at sea from predators such as sharks, the orca, and the
leopard seal. Typically, penguins do not approach closer than about 3
meters (9.8 feet) at which point they become nervous. This is also the
Antarctic tourists are instructed to maintain between
themselves and penguins: tourists are instructed not to approach
closer than 3 meters, but need not withdraw if the penguins come
In June 2011, a penguin came ashore on New Zealand's Peka Peka Beach,
3200 km off course on its journey to Antarctica. Nicknamed
Happy Feet, after the movie of the same name, it was suffering from
heat exhaustion and had to undergo a number of operations to remove
objects like driftwood and sand from its stomach.
Happy Feet was a
media sensation, with extensive coverage on TV and the web, including
a live stream that had thousands of views and a visit from English
actor Stephen Fry.
Once he had recovered,
Happy Feet was released back into the water
south of New Zealand.
In popular culture
Main article: Cultural depictions of penguins
Linux kernel mascot
Penguins are popularly loved around the world, primarily for their
unusually upright, waddling gait, impressive swimming ability and
(compared to other birds) lack of fear of humans. Their striking
black-and-white plumage is often likened to a white tie suit.
Mistakenly, some artists and writers have penguins based at the North
Pole. This is incorrect, as there are no wild penguins in the Northern
Hemisphere. The cartoon series
Chilly Willy helped perpetuate this
myth, as the title penguin would interact with northern-hemisphere
species, such as polar bears and walruses.
Penguins have been the subject of many books and films, such as Happy
Feet, Surf's Up and The Penguins of Madagascar, all CGI films; March
of the Penguins, a documentary based on the migration process of the
emperor penguin; and a parody titled Farce of the Penguins. Mr.
Popper's Penguins is a children's book written by Richard and Florence
Atwater; it was named a
Newbery Honor Book
Newbery Honor Book in 1939. Penguins have also
found their way into a number of cartoons and television dramas;
perhaps the most notable of these is Pingu, created by Silvio Mazzola
in 1986 and covering more than 100 short episodes. At the end of 2009,
Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list,
saying, "Whether they were walking (March of the Penguins), dancing
(Happy Feet), or hanging ten (Surf's Up), these oddly adorable birds
took flight at the box office all decade long."
A video game called Pengo was released by
Sega in 1982. Set in
Antarctica, the player controls a penguin character who must navigate
mazes of ice-cubes. The player is rewarded with cut-scenes of animated
penguins marching, dancing, saluting and playing peekaboo. Several
remakes and enhanced editions have followed, most recently in 2012.
Several pro, minor, college and high school sport teams have named
themselves after the species, with the
Pittsburgh Penguins team in the
National Hockey League
National Hockey League and the
Youngstown State Penguins
Youngstown State Penguins being the
The tendency of penguins to form large groups feeds the stereotype
that they all look exactly alike, a popular notion exploited by
cartoonists such as Gary Larson.
Penguins featured regularly in the cartoons of UK cartoonist Steve
Bell in his strip in
The Guardian newspaper, particularly during and
following the Falklands War, and the well-known Opus the Penguin, from
the cartoons of Berkeley Breathed, is also described as hailing from
the Falklands. Opus was a comical, "existentialist" penguin character
in the cartoons Bloom County, Outland and Opus. He was also the star
in the Christmas show A Wish for Wings That Work.
In the mid-2000s, penguins became one of the most publicized species
of animals that form lasting homosexual couples. A children's book,
And Tango Makes Three, was written about one such penguin family in
the New York Zoo.
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Ultimate Guide. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
^ Davis; Lloyd S. & Renner; M. (1995). Penguins. London: T & A
D Poyser. ISBN 0-7136-6550-5
^ Banks, Jonathan C.; Mitchell, Anthony D.; Waas, Joseph R. &
Paterson, Adrian M. (2002). "An unexpected pattern of molecular
divergence within the blue penguin (
Eudyptula minor) complex" (PDF).
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^ Marples, B. J. (1962): Observations on the history of penguins. In:
Leeper, G. W. (ed.), The evolution of living organisms. Melbourne,
Melbourne University Press. pp. 408–416.
^ (in Spanish) Acosta Hospitaleche, Carolina (2004) Los pingüinos
(Aves, Sphenisciformes) fósiles de Patagonia. Sistemática,
biogeografía y evolución. Doctoral thesis, Department of Natural
Sciences and Museum, Universidad Nacional de La Plata. La Plata,
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Cladistics. 22 (5): 412–441.
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authors list (link)
^ Mayr, Gerald; Scofield, R. Paul; Vanesa L., De Pietri; Tennyson,
Alan J. D. (2017). "A
Paleocene penguin from
New Zealand substantiates
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mentioned in this section are not as precisely resolved as it appears
to be due to uncertainties of the molecular clock used.
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^ It is likely that, during the Bartonian, there was a
near-synchronous but allopatric split between the ancestors of
Aptenodytes, Pygoscelis, and the common ancestor of all remaining
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gene evidence for expansion of extant penguins out of
to global cooling". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological
Sciences. 273 (1582): 11–7. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3260.
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^ Jarvis, E. D.; Mirarab, S.; Aberer, A. J.; Li, B.; Houde, P.; Li,
C.; Ho, S. Y. W.; Faircloth, B. C.; Nabholz, B.; Howard, J. T.; Suh,
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L.; Narula, N.; Liu, L.; Ganapathy, G.; Boussau, B.; Bayzid, M. S.;
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Zhang, Y.; Lang, Y.; Xia, J.; He, W.; Shi, Q.; Subramanian, S.;
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Two new fossil penguin species found in Peru.
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Penguins in Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of
New Zealand the Encyclopedia
of New Zealand
"Lessons in a Land of Wind and Ice" from National Wildlife Magazine
Live 24/7 camera inside a penguin habitat
Penguins (order: Sphenisciformes · family: Spheniscidae · subfamily:
Aptenodytes (great penguins)
Pygoscelis (brush-tailed penguins)
Eudyptula (little penguins)
Little penguin (or little blue penguin)
White-flippered penguin (or northern little penguin)
Spheniscus (banded penguins)
Waitaha penguin (extinct)
Eudyptes (crested penguins)
Southern rockhopper penguin
Northern rockhopper penguin
Chatham Islands penguin (extinct)
Birds (class: Aves)
Origin of birds
Origin of flight
Evolution of birds
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Glossary of bird terms
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Recently extinct birds
Late Quaternary prehistoric birds
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Apodiformes (swifts and hummingbirds)
Charadriiformes (gulls and relatives)
Gruiformes (cranes and relatives)
Eurypygiformes (kagu and sunbittern)
Gaviiformes (loons or divers)
Procellariiformes (albatrosses and petrels)
Suliformes (cormorants and relatives)
Pelecaniformes (pelicans and relatives)
Cariamiformes (seriemas and relatives)
Falconiformes (falcons and relatives)
Passeriformes (perching birds)
Cathartiformes (New World vultures and condors)
Accipitriformes (eagles and hawks)
Trogoniformes (trogons and quetzals)
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Coraciiformes (kingfishers and rollers)
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