Hailin Pan, Kunming Institute of Zoology
Hailin Pan, University of Copenhagen
Theresa Cole, University of Otago
Theresa Cole, Landcare Research
Xupeng Bi, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Miaoquan Fang, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Chengran Zhou, BGI-Shenzhen, Beishan Industrial Zone, Yantian District, Shenzhen 518083, China
Zhengtao Yang, BGI-Shenzhen, Beishan Industrial Zone, Yantian District, Shenzhen 518083, China
Daniel Ksepka, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT 06830, USA
Tom Hart, University of Oxford
Juan Bouzat, Bowling Green State University
Lisa Argilla, Otago Polytechnic
Mads Bertelsen, University of Copenhagen
Mads Bertelsen, Copenhagen Zoo
P. Boersma, University of Washington
Charles Bost, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
Yves Cherel, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
Peter Dann, Research Department, Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes, Phillip Island, Victoria, 3922, Australia
Steven Fiddaman, University of Oxford
Pauline Howard, Canterbury of New Zealand
Kim Labuschagne, National Zoological Garden, South African National Biodiversity Institute, P.O. Box 754, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Thomas Mattern, University of Otago
Gary Miller, University of Tasmania
Gary Miller, University of Western Australia
Patricia Parker, University of Missouri–St. Louis
Richard Phillips, Natural Environment Research Council
Petra Quillfeldt, University of Giessen
Peter Ryan, University of Cape Town
Helen Taylor, Hastings Entertainment
David Thompson, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Melanie Young, University of Otago
Martin Ellegaard, University of Copenhagen
M. Gilbert, University of Copenhagen
M. Gilbert, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Mikkel Sinding, University of Copenhagen
George Pacheco, University of Copenhagen
Lara Shepherd, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Alan Tennyson, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Stefanie Grosser, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Stefanie Grosser, University of Otago
Emily Kay, Massey University
Emily Kay, Wellington Management Company
Lisa Nupen, University of Cape Town
Ursula Ellenberg, La Trobe University
Ursula Ellenberg, University of Washington
David Houston, Biodiversity Group, Department of Conservation, Auckland, New Zealand
Andrew Reeve, University of Copenhagen
Andrew Reeve, Wild Center
Kathryn Johnson, Massey University

Document Type



BackgroundPenguins (Sphenisciformes) are a remarkable order of flightless wing-propelled diving seabirds distributed widely across the southern hemisphere. They share a volant common ancestor with Procellariiformes close to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (66 million years ago) and subsequently lost the ability to fly but enhanced their diving capabilities. With ∼20 species among 6 genera, penguins range from the tropical Galápagos Islands to the oceanic temperate forests of New Zealand, the rocky coastlines of the sub-Antarctic islands, and the sea ice around Antarctica. To inhabit such diverse and extreme environments, penguins evolved many physiological and morphological adaptations. However, they are also highly sensitive to climate change. Therefore, penguins provide an exciting target system for understanding the evolutionary processes of speciation, adaptation, and demography. Genomic data are an emerging resource for addressing questions about such processes.ResultsHere we present a novel dataset of 19 high-coverage genomes that, together with 2 previously published genomes, encompass all extant penguin species. We also present a well-supported phylogeny to clarify the relationships among penguins. In contrast to recent studies, our results demonstrate that the genus Aptenodytes is basal and sister to all other extant penguin genera, providing intriguing new insights into the adaptation of penguins to Antarctica. As such, our dataset provides a novel resource for understanding the evolutionary history of penguins as a clade, as well as the fine-scale relationships of individual penguin lineages. Against this background, we introduce a major consortium of international scientists dedicated to studying these genomes. Moreover, we highlight emerging issues regarding ensuring legal and respectful indigenous consultation, particularly for genomic data originating from New Zealand Taonga species.ConclusionsWe believe that our dataset and project will be important for understanding evolution, increasing cultural heritage and guiding the conservation of this iconic southern hemisphere species assemblage.

Publication Date

September 2019

Publication Title