A lot of zoos have very neat murals and other works of art. Over the weekend we visited Marwell here in Hampshire: it’s our ‘local’ zoo and we go there a lot. I really like the ‘march of the penguins’ feature they have on the outside of the penguin pool. Here’s Will, looking at each penguin species in turn…
While I’ve photographed this feature a few times before (I previously featured it here), this time round I did something new: I photographed each penguin figure individually. Here they are, squashed into a montage that destroys the sense of correct scaling present in the original.
Are these all the penguins of the world, as most visitors will assume? The small penguin at the far left of the march represents Eudyptula, but the populations of this taxon might represent two species, rather than one (E. minor, the Little blue or Fairy penguin, and E. albosignata, the White-flippered or Northern blue penguin). The Rockhopper Eudyptes chrysocome of tradition might also be more than one species: Banks et al. (2006) suggested that this species be split into the Western rockhopper E. chrysocome, Eastern rockhopper E. filholi, and Northern rockhopper E. moseleyi. These taxa (originally regarded as subspecies) are biogeographically distinct and diverged from one another during the Middle and Late Pleistocene (de Dinechin et al. 2009).
There are a few other interesting things to note. Megadyptes (the Yellow-eyed penguin) is close to Eudyptula in the ‘march’, presumably reflecting the fact that the two were previously thought to be close relatives. However, recent phylogenetic work indicates that Megadyptes is actually closer to Eudyptes, the crested penguins (Baker et al. 2006, Ksepka et al. 2006). The two Aptenodytes penguins are shown at the ‘end’ of the march because (I assume) they’ve usually been considered the ‘most advanced’ of penguins. However, recent studies have found Aptenodytes to be one of the most basal* ‘genera’ within crown-Spheniscidae, if not the most basal [below is the crown-penguin phylogeny recovered by Baker et al. (2006)].
* Some of you might recall John Harshman registering a brief complaint about the use of the term ‘basal’. I see his point, but I can’t find another way of describing the concept I’m referring to. ‘Oldest diverging’?
There’s never been much at Tet Zoo on penguins. But if you like them a lot be sure to check out Penguinology. I am reliably informed that another penguin-themed blog is due to make a splash soon.
Refs – –
Baker, A. J., Pereira, S. L., Haddrath, O. P. & Edge, K. A. 2006. Multiple gene evidence for expansion of extant penguins out of Antarctica due to global cooling. Proceedings of the Royal Society 273, 11-17.
Banks, J., Van Buren, A., Cherel, Y. & Whitfield, J. B. 2006. Genetic evidence for three species of rockhopper penguins, Eudyptes chrysocome. Polar Biology 30, 61-67.
de Dinechin, M., Ottvall, R., Quillfeldt, P. & Jouventin, P. 2009. Speciation chronology of rockhopper penguins inferred from molecular, geological and palaeoceanographic data. Journal of Biogeography 36, 693-702.
Ksepka, D. T., Bertelli, S. & Giannini, N. P. 2006. The phylogeny of the living and fossil Sphenisciformes (penguins). Cladistics 22, 412-441.