Science 13.11.18


Spheniscus humboldti

The Humboldt year has its own logo featuring the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti). A member of the genus of the banded penguins, this small penguin lives on the Chilean and Peruvian Pacific coasts benefiting from the cold Humboldt Current.

This Humboldt penguin from the collection of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (see photograph, specimen) was first described by Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen in 1834. He collected the specimen in May 1831 on the Bay of Callao and then brought it to Berlin’s Zoologisches Museum along with other ornithological finds. Since Alexander von Humboldt had already observed these penguins in the harbor of Callao, Ferdinand Meyen named the new species after his teacher and benefactor Alexander von Humboldt.

It is currently estimated that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 of these penguins alive today. If their existence was once threatened by guano mining, the dangers today include overfishing, tourism, industrial pollution, and newly introduced alien species.