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.

Penguins Guides
Browse through our curated Penguins Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Penguins. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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18”-28” | 46-71 cm
8-13 lb | 3.6-6 kg
11-20 years
Adélie Penguin
71.000
6.000
20.00
2900
3D
Adélie Penguin
24”-27” | 61-69 cm
7.5”-8.7” | 19-22 cm
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
10-30 years
African Penguin
69.000
22.000
4.000
30.00
23350
3D
African Penguin
27”-30” | 68-76 cm
7-12 lb | 3.2-5.3 kg
15-20 years
Chinstrap Penguin
76.000
5.300
20.00
6900
3D
Chinstrap Penguin
43”-51” | 110-130 cm
49-99 lb | 22-45 kg
15-20 years
Emperor Penguin
130.000
45.000
20.00
44000
3D
Emperor Penguin
20”-26” | 51-66 cm
9.4”-11.8” | 24-30 cm
6-13 lb | 2.7-5.9 kg
10-20 years
Erect-Crested Penguin
66.000
30.000
5.900
20.00
1200
3D
Erect-Crested Penguin
21”-23” | 53-58 cm
7.9”-9.1” | 20-23 cm
4.4-13.2 lb | 2-6 kg
10-20 years
Fiordland Penguin
58.000
23.000
6.000
20.00
1600
3D
Fiordland Penguin
18”-21” | 46-53 cm
5.5”-6.7” | 14-17 cm
3.5-6 lb | 1.6-2.7 kg
15-20 years
Galápagos Penguin
53.000
17.000
2.700
20.00
16400
3D
Galápagos Penguin
20”-35” | 51-90 cm
11-19 lb | 4.9-8.5 kg
15-20 years
Gentoo Penguin
90.000
8.500
20.00
9900
3D
Gentoo Penguin
24”-28” | 61-71 cm
7.9”-9.4” | 20-24 cm
8-13 lb | 3.6-6 kg
10-20 years
Humboldt Penguin
71.000
24.000
6.000
20.00
11200
3D
Humboldt Penguin
28”-39” | 70-100 cm
21-40 lb | 9.3-18 kg
15-30 years
King Penguin
100.000
18.000
30.00
15000
3D
King Penguin
63”-67” | 160-170 cm
17.7”-19.3” | 45-49 cm
198-220 lb | 90-100 kg
Kumimanu
170.000
49.000
100.000
750
3D
Kumimanu
12”-15” | 30.5-38 cm
4.7”-5.9” | 12-15 cm
2-3.5 lb | .9-1.6 kg
5-7 years
Little Penguin
38.000
15.000
1.600
7.00
19800
3D
Little Penguin
24”-27” | 61-69 cm
7-14 lb | 3.2-6.4 kg
15-20 years
Macaroni Penguin
69.000
6.400
20.00
15000
3D
Macaroni Penguin
24”-30” | 61-76 cm
8.3”-10.6” | 21-27 cm
5.5-14.3 lb | 2.5-6.5 kg
20-30 years
Magellanic Penguin
76.000
27.000
6.500
30.00
8400
3D
Magellanic Penguin
16”-18” | 41-46 cm
6.3”-7.5” | 16-19 cm
4-10 lb | 1.8-4.5 kg
10-30 years
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
46.000
19.000
4.500
30.00
2070
3D
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
26”-30” | 66-76 cm
9.8”-11.4” | 25-29 cm
8.8-14.3 lb | 4-6.5 kg
15-20 years
Royal Penguin
76.000
29.000
6.500
30.00
4400
3D
Royal Penguin
22”-28” | 56-71 cm
7.9”-10.2” | 20-26 cm
5-10 lb | 2.3-4.5 kg
15-20 years
Snares Penguin
71.000
26.000
4.500
20.00
260
3D
Snares Penguin
25”-39” | 65-100 cm
6.3”-10.2” | 16-26 cm
22-66 lb | 10-30 kg
Waimanu
100.000
26.000
30.000
540
3D
Waimanu
24”-31” | 61-79 cm
8.3”-11” | 21-28 cm
8-18 lb | 3.6-8.2 kg
10-25 years
Yellow-Eyed Penguin
79.000
28.000
8.200
25.00
6100
3D
Yellow-Eyed Penguin
African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
Comparison drawing of the African Penguin compared to other similar penguins and a person

Native to southern African waters, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) exists in large colonies. This is the only species of penguin found in Africa and is sometimes called South African penguins, Cape penguins, black-footed penguins, or jackass penguins. It produces loud donkey-like bays. Each penguin has a unique black stripe and spot on the chest. But that's not all; what makes them easy to point out are the black feet, black facial masks, and pink patches of skin above the eyes. In addition, the upper part of the body is black, in contrast to the white underpart with black spots and markings.

African Penguins have an overall height between 24”-27” (61-69 cm) and body width of 7.5”-8.7” (19-22 cm). The typical weight of the African Penguin is in the range of 4.4-8.8 lb (2-4 kg). African Penguins have lifespans between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the African Penguin viewed from the side and front
Native to southern African waters, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) exists in large colonies. This is the only species of penguin found in Africa and is sometimes called South African penguins, Cape penguins, black-footed penguins, or jackass penguins. It produces loud donkey-like bays.

African Penguins have an overall height between 24”-27” (61-69 cm) and body width of 7.5”-8.7” (19-22 cm). The typical weight of the African Penguin is in the range of 4.4-8.8 lb (2-4 kg). African Penguins have lifespans between 10-30 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the African Penguin viewed from the side and front
African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)
Height:
24”-27” | 61-69 cm
Width:
7.5”-8.7” | 19-22 cm
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
4.4-8.8 lb | 2-4 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Spheniscus demersus
Lifespan
10-30 years

Drawings include:

African Penguin side elevations, front, back

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Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
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 (Pygoscelis antarcticus)
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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Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
Comparison drawing of the Galápagos Penguin compared to other similar penguins and a person

The Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is the only penguin found close to the equator. It inhabits the Galápagos island in Ecuador. It is a banded penguin and among the smallest globally, possessing various adaptations to help it stay cool in its warm environment. The head and the upper part of the body are black, but a few white stripes run along the body's length while the underside and frontal area are white. Its extremely narrow head stripe separates it from other banded penguins. In addition, it has feathers on its back and flippers. The Galápagos Penguin shows unique nesting behavior like using any resource to build a nest, including stealing components like pebbles and sticks from absent neighbors.

Galápagos Penguins have an overall height between 18”-21” (46-53 cm) and body width of 5.5”-6.7” (14-17 cm). The typical weight of the Galápagos Penguin is in the range of 3.5-6 lb (1.6-2.7 kg). Galápagos Penguins have lifespans between 15-20 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Galápagos Penguin viewed from the side and front
The Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is the only penguin found close to the equator. It inhabits the Galápagos island in Ecuador. It is a banded penguin and among the smallest globally, possessing various adaptations to help it stay cool in its warm environment.

Galápagos Penguins have an overall height between 18”-21” (46-53 cm) and body width of 5.5”-6.7” (14-17 cm). The typical weight of the Galápagos Penguin is in the range of 3.5-6 lb (1.6-2.7 kg). Galápagos Penguins have lifespans between 15-20 years.

Set of scaled elevation drawings of the Galápagos Penguin viewed from the side and front
Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)
Height:
18”-21” | 46-53 cm
Width:
5.5”-6.7” | 14-17 cm
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
3.5-6 lb | 1.6-2.7 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Spheniscus mendiculus
Lifespan
15-20 years

Drawings include:

Galápagos Penguin side elevations, front, back

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Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua)
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 (Pygoscelis papua)
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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Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
Scale illustration of an average Yellow-Eyed Penguin compared to a human and similar penguins

Most penguins are marine, but the Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) is terrestrial, only getting into the water to hunt. It is endemic to the southern region of New Zealand. It is not migratory and will stay on an island all year round. Surrounding its eyes and the back of its head are bands of pale yellow feathers. These are what are used to identify it. However, juveniles lack this yellow band and have a greyer head. The underside of its flippers, chest, thighs, and stomach are light brown, while the tail and back are slate blue-black. Besides, the side of the head and fore-neck are light brown. The Yellow-eyed penguin is silent, only making shrill bay-like calls during breeding and nesting.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins have an overall height between 24”-31” (61-79 cm) and body width of 8.3”-11” (21-28 cm). The typical weight of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin is in the range of 8-18 lb (3.6-8.2 kg). Yellow-Eyed Penguins have lifespans between 10-25 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin seen from the side and front
Most penguins are marine, but the Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) is terrestrial, only getting into the water to hunt. It is endemic to the southern region of New Zealand. It is not migratory and will stay on an island all year round.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins have an overall height between 24”-31” (61-79 cm) and body width of 8.3”-11” (21-28 cm). The typical weight of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin is in the range of 8-18 lb (3.6-8.2 kg). Yellow-Eyed Penguins have lifespans between 10-25 years.

Pair of elevation illustrations of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin seen from the side and front
Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
Height:
24”-31” | 61-79 cm
Width:
8.3”-11” | 21-28 cm
Length:
Depth:
Weight:
8-18 lb | 3.6-8.2 kg
Area:
Scientific Name
Megadyptes antipodes
Lifespan
10-25 years

Drawings include:

Yellow-Eyed Penguin side elevations, front, back

Details & Downloads

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