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Aquatic, flightless birds

Penguins (order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscidae) are a group of aquatic, flightless birds. They live mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos, found north of the equator.

Because they are adapted for life in the water, these birds have countershaded dark and white plumage. Additionally, their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life. That’s because they spend about half of their lives on land and half in the oceans.

Contrary to popular belief, not all penguins live in icy climates. In fact, only a few species live in Antarctica. Meanwhile, several species thrive in the temperate zone, and one resides near the equator.

The largest living species is the emperor penguin, while the smallest is the little blue penguin, also known as the fairy penguin. Generally speaking, larger of the species inhabit colder regions, while smaller ones live in warmer areas.

Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human.

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