The first penguin fossil was found in New Zealand during the mid-1800’s. To this date, there has never been a penguin fossil found in the northern hemisphere. There is fossil evidence of prehistoric penguins that stood about four to five feet tall; these fossils have been found in reach of present day-penguins. It is hypothesized by scientists that these prehistoric species of penguins started to die out at the same time that the number of prehistoric whales and seals heightened, due to competition for food.
According to scientists, penguins were probably no different then the ancestor of the common bluebird about forty million years ago. Today, it is most evident that the ancestor of the penguin has gone through drastic changes both physically and genetically. It is believed, as the ancestor of the penguin became adapt to a marine climate it went through prevalent structural changes that hampered and ultimately made it lose its ability to fly. Due to this lost capability, the penguin obtained its esteemed swimming and diving skills.
A majority of scientists acknowledge there to be seventeen different species of penguins in the world today, and thirty-two which have gone extinct. All penguins are part of the class Aves which includes all birds. Characteristics of the members of this class include endothermic, outer covering of feathers, modified front legs which are wings, and the laying of eggs. To get more specific though, all penguins, living and extinct, are part of the order Sphenisciformes and family Spheniscidae. It so happens to be that the family Spheniscidae in the only family in the order Spenisciformes. There are numerous genera that penguins belong to. The chin-strap penguin belongs to the genus Pygoscelis, the rockhopper penguin the genus Eudyptes, and the galapagos penguin the genus Spheniscus. There are a total of six genera that the seventeen species of penguins belong to.
http://www.5stars-of-scandinavia.com/images/rockhopper.jpg http://www.naturalphotos.com/sekercioglu/antarctica/images/FK2-CrcsI-ROPE.jpg http://www.mhcbe.ab.ca/st_francis/gr1/Webquests/pen-rockhopper.jpg http://www.surfbirds.com/media/Photos/feb05screen.jpg http://www-old.aad.gov.au/wb/imglib/small/20040511-half-colour-royal-120819-small.jpg http://www.emperor-penguin.com/mumchick.jpg http://www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/antarctica/apuimages/images05/penguinfamily.jpg http://www.coolantarctica.com/gallery/penguins/emp_ranch3_lg.jpg
Penguins can be found on continent in the Southern Hemisphere. The seventeen species of penguins usually live on islands or remote lands which are away from land predators that could take advantage of the penguins’ inability to fly. Penguins are marine birds that spend nearly 75% of their lives in water that is nutrient-rich and provides an abundant amount of food.