This episode is all about penguins—the birds of the family Spheniscidae. They're superbly adapted for a life of diving in frigid oceanic waters.

September 29, 2021

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This episode is all about penguins. All penguins belong to the family Spheniscidae.

Penguins are among the most bizarre and specialized birds in the world. Few other birds represent such a departure from what we think of as the standard avian model. The specializations of penguins—their adaptations—serve them very well for a life of diving deep into the ocean and of surviving in extreme cold.

These birds are wonderful examples of how “life finds a way”—how animals can evolve into radically different forms, adapt to incredibly harsh conditions, and still manage to look pretty darn cute.

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Links of Interest

Research Citations

Photos of Some Species Mentioned

King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). Photo by herraez/Adobe.
King Penguin colony (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on South Georgia Island. Photo by David Jaffe.
Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) in Antarctica. Photo by Silver/Adobe.
Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) in foreground with Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus) in background. South Sandwich Islands, Antarctica. Photo by mzphoto11/Adobe.
Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome). Falkland Islands. Photo by David Jaffe.
Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua). Photo by David Jaffe.
Adelie Penguins porpoising (Pygoscelis adeliae). Antarctica. Photo by David Jaffe.
Gentoo Penguin chicks (Pygoscelis papua). Antarctica. Photo by David Jaffe.
Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor). Australia. Photo by ymgerman/Adobe.


  • Magellanic Penguin sounds (Freesound recording 111079)
  • King Penguin sounds (Xeno Canto recording XC449827)
  • Little Penguin sounds (Xeno Canto recording XC526701)
  • Gentoo Penguin sounds (Xeno Canto recording XC172371)
  • Emperor Penguin sounds (Freesound recording 179589)
  • King Penguin sounds (YouTube Video CC)

This work by Ivan Phillipsen is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0


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