Temporal range: Late Miocene/Early Pliocene - 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 ("wedge-shaped") 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. 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.[1]


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


Several extinct species are known from prehistoric fossils:

  • Spheniscus muizoni (Pisco Middle/Late Miocene of Cerro La Bruja, Peru)
  • Spheniscus chilensis (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of C Andean coast)
  • Spheniscus megaramphus (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of C Andean coast)
  • Spheniscus urbinai (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of C Andean coast)

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


External links

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium Penguins Page
  • www.pinguins.info : information about all species of penguins