Banded penguin

Temporal range: Middle Miocene - Recent
Spheniscus demersus, the African penguin
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Sphenisciformes
Family: Spheniscidae
Genus: Spheniscus
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Spheniscus demersus

The banded penguins are the penguins of the Spheniscus genus. There are four living species of penguins known as banded penguins, and all have similar coloration. They are sometimes also known as "jack-ass penguins" due to their loud locator calls sounding similar to a donkey braying.[1] Common traits include a band of black that runs around their bodies bordering their black dorsal coloring, black beaks with a small vertical white band, distinct spots on their bellies, and a small patch of unfeathered or thinly feathered skin around their eyes that can be either white or pink. All members of this genus lay their eggs and raise their young in burrows.[2]


The banded penguins belong to the genus Spheniscus, which was established by Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[3] The word Spheniscus is the diminutive of sphẽn or sphẽnos, meaning "wedge"; this is a reference to the penguin's thin, wedge-shaped flippers.[4]


The African, Humboldt, and Magellanic species all live in more temperate climates such as South Africa and the southern coasts of Chile and Argentina while the Galápagos penguin is native to the Galapagos Islands, making it the most northerly of all penguin species. The banded penguins are not (and apparently never were) Antarctic.



The four extant species of banded penguins (Spheniscus) are:

Image Common name Binomial name
Magellanic penguin Spheniscus magellanicus
Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti
Galápagos penguin Spheniscus mendiculus
African penguin, black-footed or jackass penguin Spheniscus demersus


Fossil Spheniscus sp.

Several extinct species are known from prehistoric fossils:

The former Spheniscus predemersus is now placed in a monotypic genus Inguza.


  1. Favaro L; Ozella L; Pessani D. "The Vocal Repertoire of the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus): Structure and Function of Calls". PLoS ONE 9(7): e103460. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103460.
  2. Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 69. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
  3. "ITIS Report: Spheniscus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  4. Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, UK: Christopher Helm. p. 361. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

External links

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