Penguins | Spheniscidae

Penguins are a species of flightless aquatic birds that live south of the equator with the exception of one species that lives on the Galapagos Island. Having adapted for the water instead of the air, the penguin’s wings have evolved from wings to flippers; useful for propelling the penguin through the water. For its diet, penguins feed primarily on fish, krill, squid, that they hunt underwater. Penguins spend half of their lives on land and half of life in the water. The penguin is primarily black and white, but many species, such as the Emperor Penguin, have accents of colorful plumage on their faces and necks.

What do penguins eat?

Penguins typically eat the prey that is available in their habitat. King and Emperor Penguins mostly eat fish, but may also eat krill, crustaceans, and cephalopods. The diet of Adélie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins mostly made up of Antarctic krill, silverfish, and glacial squid.

Why can’t penguins fly?

Although penguins are classified birds, their wings are more suited for water. A penguin’s wings are more like flippers and allow them to swim in the water. While they are on land their wings help them keep their balance and walk. Scientist believe penguins lost the ability to fly through evolution.

How do penguins stay warm?

Penguins stay warm through a layer of fat that protects them and serves as insulation while they are in the cold water. While they are on land the layers of overlapping feathers keep them warm, and protect them from harsh weather conditions.

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Emperor Penguin
Dimensioned elevation illustration comparing the size of the Emperor Penguin to the standing height of a man

The Emperor Penguin is the largest living penguin species and are characterized by the black feathers on their head and back that sharply contrast with a pale-yellow breast, and bright-yellow ear patches.  The Emperor Penguin is unique to Antarctica, and it is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, trekking 31-75 miles over the ice to breeding colonies. Its diet consists of mostly fish and crustaceans, and while hunting, Emperor Penguins can remain submerged under water for around 20 minutes, diving to a depth of 1755 feet. Contrary to popular belief, emperor penguins are not monogamous, as the fidelity rate among the species is 15%.

The Emperor Penguin has an average height range of 43”-51” (110-130 cm), weight of 49-99 lb (22-45 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Series of illustrations of the Emperor Penguin in a range of standing positions
The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin species and are characterized by the black feathers on their bodies that sharply contrast with a pale-yellow breast, and yellow ear patches. Unique to Antarctica, the Emperor Penguin is the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter.

The Emperor Penguin has an average height range of 43”-51” (110-130 cm), weight of 49-99 lb (22-45 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Series of illustrations of the Emperor Penguin in a range of standing positions
Emperor Penguin
Height:
43”-51” | 110-130 cm
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
49-99 lb | 22-45 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Aptenodytes forsteri
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:
Emperor Penguin standing (side), looking (side), standing (back), walking (side), standing (front), lying down (side), standing (arctic man)

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Gentoo Penguin
Elevation drawing with dimensions of the Gentoo Penguin compared to the size of an average person

The Gentoo penguin, sometimes known as the Johnny penguin, is characterized by the large trumpeting call that it makes with its head thrown back. Other distinguishing factors include the wide white stripe that extends over the top of the penguins’ head, and its bright orange-red bill. Gentoo penguins have the most prominent tails of all penguin species. The species is most closely related to the Adélie penguin and the Chinstrap penguin. They are the third largest penguin species, and the fastest underwater swimmers of all penguin species, reaching speeds of 22 miles per hour.

The Gentoo Penguin has an average height range of 20”-35” (51-90 cm), weight of 11-19 lb (4.9-8.5 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Series of elevation drawings of the Gentoo Penguin in an assortment of postures from the front, back, and side views
The Gentoo penguin is characterized by the large trumpeting call that it makes with its head thrown back. Other distinguishing factors include the wide white stripe that extends over the top of the penguins’ head, its bright orange-red bill, and the most prominent tail of all penguin species.

The Gentoo Penguin has an average height range of 20”-35” (51-90 cm), weight of 11-19 lb (4.9-8.5 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Series of elevation drawings of the Gentoo Penguin in an assortment of postures from the front, back, and side views
Gentoo Penguin
Height:
20”-35” | 51-90 cm
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
11-19 lb | 4.9-8.5 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Pygoscelis papua
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:
Gentoo Penguin standing (side), looking (side), standing (back), walking (side), standing (front), standing (winter woman)

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Chinstrap Penguin
Size comparison illustration of a Chinstrap Penguin compared to the height of a person

The Chinstrap Penguin acquires its name from its appearance, a narrow black band of feathers under its head, making it appear as if it were wearing a black helmet. Due to its large harsh call, its other names include ringed penguin, bearded penguin, and stonecracker penguin. The Chinstrap Penguin avoids detection from predators through countershading camouflage with its black back and white underside.  Further, its tightly packed feathers provide a waterproof coat that allow it to swim in freezing waters. The species has a circumpolar distribution, and they breed in Antarctica, Argentina, Bouvet Island, Chile, the Falkand Islands, the Fresh Southern Territories, and South Georgia.

The Chinstrap Penguin has an average height range of 27”-30” (68-76 cm), weight of 7-12 lb (3.2-5.3 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Collection of illustrations of Chinstrap Penguins in multiple positions from standing to walking
The Chinstrap Penguin acquires its name from its appearance, a narrow black band of feathers under its head, making it appear as if it were wearing a black helmet. Due to its large harsh call, its other names include ringed penguin, bearded penguin, and stonecracker penguin.

The Chinstrap Penguin has an average height range of 27”-30” (68-76 cm), weight of 7-12 lb (3.2-5.3 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Collection of illustrations of Chinstrap Penguins in multiple positions from standing to walking
Chinstrap Penguin
Height:
27”-30” | 68-76 cm
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
7-12 lb | 3.2-5.3 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Pygoscelis antarcticus
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:
Chinstrap Penguin standing (side), standing (back), walking (front), standing (front), jumping (side), standing (winter woman)

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Macaroni Penguin
Dimensioned size comparison illustration of a Macaroni Penguin compared to the height of an average standing woman

The Macaroni Penguin is one of the six species of crested penguin, closely related to the Royal Penguin.  The species can be found from the Sub Antarctic to the Antarctic Peninsula. Macaroni penguins consume more marine life annually than any other seabird species, with a diet that consists mostly of crustaceans, such as krill, and small fish. They are distinguished by their yellow crest and the sharp delineation of their white underparts to their black upperparts and face. Since the mid-1970s the macaroni penguin is classified as under a vulnerable conservation status.

The Macaroni Penguin has an average height range of 24”-27” (61-69 cm), weight of 7-14 lb (3.2-6.4 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Collection of illustrations of the Macaroni Penguin in a range of postures viewed from the front, back and side
The Macaroni Penguin is one of the six species of crested penguin, closely related to the Royal Penguin. Macaroni penguins consume more marine life annually than any other seabird species, with a diet that consists mostly of crustaceans, such as krill, and small fish.

The Macaroni Penguin has an average height range of 24”-27” (61-69 cm), weight of 7-14 lb (3.2-6.4 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-20 years.

Collection of illustrations of the Macaroni Penguin in a range of postures viewed from the front, back and side
Macaroni Penguin
Height:
24”-27” | 61-69 cm
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
7-14 lb | 3.2-6.4 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Eudyptes chrysolophus
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:
Macaroni Penguin standing (side), looking (side), standing (back), walking (side), standing (front), standing (winter woman)

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King Penguin
Dimensioned size comparison drawing of the King Penguin compared to the height of an average man

The King Penguin is the second largest penguin species; slightly smaller than the Emperor Penguin, the King Penguin is similar in appearance to that of the Emperor Penguin, but it can be distinguished by its straighter bill and sleeker body. King penguins breed on the Sub Antarctic islands on the northern regions of Antarctica, South Georgia, as well as other temperate islands; they are classified under least concern conservation status. The species’ diet consists of mostly laternfish, squid, and krill, and King Penguins can dive over 300 feet to catch their prey.

The King Penguin has an average height range of 28”-39” (70-100 cm), weight of 21-40 lb (9.3-18 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-30 years.

Series of drawings of King Penguins in various postures from walking to standing and looking
The King Penguin is the second largest penguin species; slightly smaller than the Emperor Penguin, the King Penguin is similar in appearance to that of the Emperor Penguin, but it can be distinguished by its straighter bill and sleeker body. King Penguins can dive over 300 feet to catch their prey.

The King Penguin has an average height range of 28”-39” (70-100 cm), weight of 21-40 lb (9.3-18 kg), and typical lifespan of 15-30 years.

Series of drawings of King Penguins in various postures from walking to standing and looking
King Penguin
Height:
28”-39” | 70-100 cm
Width:
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
21-40 lb | 9.3-18 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Aptenodytes patagonicus
Lifespan
15-30 years

Drawings include:
King Penguin standing (side), looking (side), standing (back), walking (side), standing (front), standing (winter man)

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