Researchers analyzed skeletal remains and estimated body mass for all fossil penguins. The study found that fossil species ranged from 3 kg to 81 kg in total mass. The largest fossil species of penguin was approximately 2.5 times as massive as the largest extant spheniscid. The findings show that members of Spheniscus are small-sized penguins in both extant and extinct forms (Livezey, 1989).
All extant members of the genus have coloration that serves as camouflage, with a white stomach to match the bright surface of the ocean (to fool oceanic predators from below) and a black coloration on their back that serves disguise them in the water from aerial predators. A common coloration theme unites the extant species such as, distinct spots on their abdomens, a small vertical stripe upon their black and a small patch of lightly feathered or nude patch of skin around its eyes that has a pink or whitish coloration (Cooper, 1977; Stefoff, 2005).
Compared to other genera within the spheniscids, the genus Spheniscus is moderately dimorphic, with size differences between the sexes (Livezey, 1989).
- Cooper, J. (1977). Moult of the black-footed penguin. International Zoo Yearbook, 18: 22-27.
- Livezey, B. C. (1989). Morphometric patterns in Recent and fossil penguins (Aves, Sphenisciformes). Journal of Zoology, 219(2), 269-307.
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