The genus Aptenodytes contains two extant species of penguins collectively known as "the great penguins".[1]

Temporal range: Pleistocene to recent
Aptenodytes forsteri -Antarctica -swimming-8.jpg
Emperor penguins swimming
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: Aptenodytes
Miller, JF, 1778
Type species
Aptenodytes patagonicus
  Aptenodytes p. patagonicus
  breeding grounds


The name "Aptenodytes" is a composite of Ancient Greek elements, "ἀ-πτηνο-δύτης" (without-wings-diver).[2]


Combined morphological and molecular data[3] have shown the genus Aptenodytes to be basal to all other living penguins, that is, the genus split off from a branch which led to all other species. DNA evidence suggests this split occurred around 40 million years ago.[4] This had been foreshadowed by an attempt to classify penguins by their behavior, which also predicted the genus' basal nature.[5]

The egg of a king penguin (10 cm, c. 300 g) and that of an emperor penguin (11.1–12.7 cm, 345–515 g).[6] At right a king penguin pair is changing the egg guard at South Georgia Island, where over 30 colonies of king penguin reside. An important cause for reproductive failure in some penguin species is mistiming between parents for incubation relief.[6]


Two monotypic species are extant:[7]

Common and binomial names[7] Image Description Range
Emperor penguin
(Aptenodytes forsteri)
122 cm (4 ft) tall, weighing 22–37 kg (48.5–82 lb), the adult has deep black dorsal feathers, covering: the head, chin, throat, back, dorsal part of the flippers and tail. The underparts of the wings and belly are white, becoming pale yellow in the upper breast, and ear patches are bright yellow. The upper mandible is black and the lower mandible can be pink, orange or lilac. Males and females are similar in size and colouration. Circumpolar distribution in the Antarctic between the 66° and 77° S. It almost always breeds on stable pack ice near the coast and wander up to 18 km (11 mi) offshore.[8]
King penguin
(Aptenodytes patagonicus)
90 cm (3 ft) tall, weighing 11 to 16 kg (24 to 35 lb), The upper parts are steel blue-grey, darkening to black on the head, the belly is white fading to orange on the upper breast with bright orange ear patches. The black bill is long and slender. The lower mandible bears a striking pink or orange-coloured mandibular plate Breeds on the subantarctic islands between 45° and 55° S at the northern reaches of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands and other temperate islands of the region.


Aptenodytes patagonicus, the king penguin
  1. ^ DeNapoli, Dyan (2010). The Great Penguin Rescue. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-4391-4817-4.
  2. ^ "British Museum - King penguin". British Museum. 2008-08-05. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  3. ^ Ksepka, D. T. B.; Sara Giannini; Norberto P. (2006). "The phylogeny of the living and fossil Sphenisciformes (penguins)". Cladistics. 22 (5): 412–441. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2006.00116.x. S2CID 85673628.
  4. ^ Baker AJ, Pereira SL, Haddrath OP, Edge KA (2006). "Multiple gene evidence for expansion of extant penguins out of Antarctica due to global cooling". Proc Biol Sci. 273 (1582): 11–17. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3260. PMC 1560011. PMID 16519228.
  5. ^ Jouventin P (1982). "Visual and vocal signals in penguins, their evolution and adaptive characters". Adv. Ethol. 24: 1–149.
  6. ^ a b "Penguins: Reproduction". SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. 2020. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Ciconiiformes (Version 9.004)". 2008-07-05.
  8. ^ University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. "Aptenodytes forsteri". Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-01.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Aptenodytes at Wikimedia Commons