Penguins are flightless aquatic birds living mostly in the southern hemisphere of the Earth, except for a single species
which lives near the Equator.
Some experts have argued about their classification as birds due to their inability to fly and having stiff flippers instead of soft and flexible wings. However, most scientists believe that those are not the only reason to consider an animal as a bird; features like a beak, plumage or laying eggs and some other anatomical characteristics are determinant to classify them as birds.
Nevertheless, penguins are the only family of water birds that cannot fly; most believe that this was part of a natural process of evolution and adaptation to a habitat where there was no need to migrate long distances or flee from many predators. Instead, they evolved to have an improved anatomical design to be agile underwater and regulate their body temperature according to weather conditions of their habitat.
Penguin fossils dating back about 60 million years show that they were much larger and heavier than most modern penguins whose descendants date back to three million years ago.
This family of birds was discovered by the Western civilization in the late fifteen century when sailors of the northern hemisphere found on the Argentine coast, a group of birds that were black and white. These birds were very similar to the now extinct Giant Alca also called Great Penguin (Pinguinus impennis), a bird who lived in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, so in consequence, they decided to name them “Penguins.”
The number of recognized species is controversial. For most scientists, there are 17 types of penguin pided into six genera, but some others classify some species as subspecies or just group them in a different way according to their geographical location.
Aptenodytes forsteri, the Emperor penguin, is the largest of all species of penguins, with a height of up to 4 feet; and the Eudyptula minor, the little penguin, is currently the smallest with a maximum height of 1.25 feet. Fossils of primitive species like the Anthropornis genus, which lived millions years ago, have proved that they reached up to 5’7’’ feet tall and weight around 200 lb., the largest ever found.
Emperor Penguin – Aptenoydes Forstieri
Gentoo Penguin – Pygoscelis papua
Magellanic Penguin – Spheniscus magellanicus
Snares Penguin – Eudyptes robustus
Yellow-Eyed Penguin – Megadyptes antipodes
Galapagos Penguin – Spheniscus mendiculus
Macaroni Penguin – Eudyptes chrysolophus
Erect-Crested Penguin – Eudyptes sclateri
Adelie Penguin – Pygoscelis adeliae
Humboldt Penguin – Spheniscus humboldti
Rockhopper Penguin – Eudyptes chrysocome
Royal Penguin – Eudyptes schlegeli
Chinstrap Penguin – Pygoscelis antarctica
African Penguin – Spheniscus demersus
Fiordland Penguin – Eudyptes pachyrynchus
Little Blue Penguin – Eudyptula minor