Evolution of Penguins

By: Aileen Santiago


Penguins are a unique and interesting species on this earth. They have wings, but they can not fly. You ever wonder if there's a reason why penguins can't fly? Keep reading if you want to find out.
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Penguins' Ancestors

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The ancestors are Perudyptes devriesi , Icodyptes salasi, and Waimanu manneringi. They are all extinct. Perudyptes lived about 42 million years ago, Icadyptes lived about 36 million years ago, and Waimanu lived about 60-62 million years ago. They were all flightless birds.

Fossil Record

By looking at the fossil record, you can see how penguins have evolved.


Their ancestors had wing feathers and smaller body feathers and penguins now have flippers. Icadyptes was about 5 feet, Perudyptes was about 3 feet, and Waimanu was about half the size of an Emperor penguin. Today penguins are about 4 feet. The closest living relative is an albatross. All ancestors had long beaks to catch food or protect themselves from predators. Penguins have gotten smaller over time and their feathers have gotten thicker and shorter to adapt to their environment. How did wings evolve to flippers? Penguins did not need their wings to fly. But they did need to swim to hunt for food. So having flippers helped penguins swim in the water. Also, their joints fused their wrist to their elbow, that's why their flippers don't look like wings anymore.


There were 40 other species of penguins but they weren’t able to survive because of the environment or lack of evolving.

Click On the Link to Watch a Video of Evidence for the Evolution of Penguins

Thanks for Watching!

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