9. Little Penguins
What could possibly be anything cuter than penguins, it’s their little version. These penguins are absolutely similar to normal penguins except for the size. Their small size make them much more cute than normal ones, so much so they can be said one of the top 10 cutest animals on earth.
The little penguin is the smallest species of penguin. It grows to an average of 33 cm in height and 43 cm in length, though specific measurements vary by subspecies. It is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand, with possible records from Chile. In Australia, they are often called fairy penguins because of their small size. In New Zealand, they are more commonly known as little blue penguins or blue penguins owing to their slate-blue plumage. They are also known by their Māori name: kororā.
The little penguin was first described by German naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster in 1781. Several subspecies are known, but a precise classification of these is still a matter of dispute. The holotypes of the subspecies E. m. variabilis and Eudyptula minor chathamensis are in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
The white-flippered penguin is sometimes considered a subspecies, sometimes a distinct species, and sometimes a morph. As the Australian and Otago little penguins may be a distinct species to which the specific name minor would apply, the white-flippered birds indeed belong to a distinct species, although not exactly as originally assumed.
Mitochondrial and nuclear DNA evidence suggests the split between Eudyptula and Spheniscus occurred around 25 million years ago, with the ancestors of the white-flippered and little penguins diverging about 2.7 million years ago.