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This is an archived version of a Tree of Life page. For up-to-date information, please refer to the current version of this page.




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taxon links [up-->]Eudyptes pachyrhynchus [up-->]Spheniscus magellanicus [up-->]Eudyptes robustus [up-->]Spheniscus mendiculus [up-->]Pygoscelis antarcticus [up-->]Eudyptes chrysocome [up-->]Pygoscelis adeliae [up-->]Spheniscus humboldti [up-->]Eudyptes chrysolophus [up-->]Megadyptes antipodes [up-->]Pygoscelis papua [up-->]Aptenodytes patagonicus [up-->]Spheniscus demersus [up-->]Eudyptes sclateri [up-->]Eudyptes schlegeli [up-->]Aptenodytes forsteri [up-->]Eudyptula minor [down<--]Neoaves Interpreting the tree
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This tree diagram shows the relationships between several groups of organisms.

The root of the current tree connects the organisms featured in this tree to their containing group and the rest of the Tree of Life. The basal branching point in the tree represents the ancestor of the other groups in the tree. This ancestor diversified over time into several descendent subgroups, which are represented as internal nodes and terminal taxa to the right.

example of a tree diagram

You can click on the root to travel down the Tree of Life all the way to the root of all Life, and you can click on the names of descendent subgroups to travel up the Tree of Life all the way to individual species.

For more information on ToL tree formatting, please see Interpreting the Tree or Classification. To learn more about phylogenetic trees, please visit our Phylogenetic Biology pages.

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Summary phylogenetic hypothesis based on the combined analysis of morphological, breeding, and mitochondrial DNA characters (Bertelli and Giannini, 2005).  All genera are clearly reciprocally monophyletic, however the root of the penguin tree is still unclear.
Containing group: Neoaves


Bertelli, S., and N. P. Giannini. 2005. A phylogeny of extant penguins (Aves: Sphenisciformes) combining morphology and mitochondrial sequences. Cladistics 21: 209-239.

Dann, P., I. Norman, and P. Reilly, eds. 1995. The Penguins: Ecology and Management. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Sydney.

Davis, L. S. and J. Darby, eds. 1990. Penguin Biology. Academic Press, San Diego.

Giannini, N. P., and S. Bertelli. 2004. Phylogeny of extant penguins based on integumentary and breeding characters. The Auk 121: 422-434.

Gill, F. and M. Wright. 2006. Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

Grant, W. S., D. C. Duffy, and R. W. Leslie. 1994. Allozyme phylogeny of Spheniscus penguins. The Auk 111: 716-270.

Marchant, S. and P. J. Higgins, eds. 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol 1. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

M?ller-Schwarze, D. 1984. The behavior of penguins: adapted to ice and tropics. State University of New York Press, Albany.

O?Hara, R. J. 1989. An estimate of the phylogeny of the living penguins (Aves: Spheniscidae). Am. Zool. 29, 11A.

Raikow, R. J., L. Bicanovsky, and A. H. Bledsoe. 1988. Forelimb joint mobility and the evolution of wing-propelled diving in birds. Auk 105:446-451.

Reilly, P. 1994. Penguins of the World. Oxford University Press.

Schreiweis, D. O. 1982. A comparative study of the appendicular musculature of penguins (Aves: Sphenisciformes). Smithsonian Contrib. Zool. 341:1-46.

Simpson, G. G. 1946. Fossil Penguins. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 87, 1?100.

Simpson, G. G. 1972. Conspectus of Patagonian fossil penguins. Am. Mus. Nov. 2488, 1?37.

Simpson, G. G. 1976. Penguins: Past and Present, Here and There. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Stonehouse, B. 1975. The biology of penguins. University Park Press, Baltimore.

Williams, T. D. 1995. The Penguins. Oxford University Press, New York.

Woehler, E. J. 1993. The Distribution and Abundance of Antarctic and Subantarctic Penguins. University Printing Services, Cambridge.

Zusi, R. L. 1975. An interpretation of skull structure in penguins. In: Stonehouse, B. (Ed.), The Biology of Penguins. University Park Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 59?84.

Information on the Internet

Title Illustrations
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Scientific Name Pygoscelis adeliae
Location Antarctica
Acknowledgements The copyright owner has released this image under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Creative Commons License.
source: flickr: happy to see you
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © 2005 robert bingham
Scientific Name Aptenodytes patagonicus
Location captive at Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium, Japan
Acknowledgements The copyright owner has released this image under the Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.
source: flickr: Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Behavior diving
Copyright © 2005 Kanko
Scientific Name Eudyptes chrysocome
Location captive at London Zoo
Acknowledgements The copyright owner has released this image under the Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Creative Commons License.
source: flickr: Rockhopper Penguin, (Eudyptes chrysocome)
Specimen Condition Live Specimen
Copyright © 2006 Paul Redman
About This Page

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Joseph W. Brown at

Citing this page:

Brown, Joseph W. 2007. Sphenisciformes. Spheniscidae. Penguins. Version 21 March 2007 (temporary). http://tolweb.org/Spheniscidae/26387/2007.03.21 in The Tree of Life Web Project, http://tolweb.org/

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This page is a Tree of Life Branch Page.

Each ToL branch page provides a synopsis of the characteristics of a group of organisms representing a branch of the Tree of Life. The major distinction between a branch and a leaf of the Tree of Life is that each branch can be further subdivided into descendent branches, that is, subgroups representing distinct genetic lineages.

For a more detailed explanation of the different ToL page types, have a look at the Structure of the Tree of Life page.

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