Penguins are flying birds however, their wings remain essential to their mobility. Instead of floating across the air penguins use their wings -which have evolved into flippers to dive, glide, and cruise across the ocean. They are agile and skilled swimmers, yet they walk with the waddle on land — where they will spend more than 25percent of the time. They utilize their tails to balance themselves. 1
These 18 (or 20) species of penguins share many things in common and in general are quite similar, although certain varieties have distinctive plumage colors, and they can differ in size, too. Learn more about unusual and interesting facts about penguins.
Penguins only live In the Southern Hemisphere
Technically, one type of penguin is found on the Galapagos Islands that lie across the equator. As such, certain Galapagos penguins can migrate across into an area in Northern Hemisphere. Apart from the occasional wanderer the majority of penguin species reside throughout the Southern Hemisphere, where they are seeking colder waters. In fact, the Galapagos penguin is part of the Cromwell Current, a cold ocean current that strikes some islands.
Penguins live in extremely cold areas similar to Antarctica. Antarctic in Antarctica, which is which is where we are familiar with them. But, many species of penguins reside in temperate zones, for instance, Melbourne, Australia, where 1,400 fairy penguins reside at St. Kilda’s Pier. The penguin colony is so loved that people are there to stop visitors from coming close enough. Penguins with fairy-like faces are sometimes referred to as tiny penguins, which is a fitting description for the smallest type of penguin.
Apart from Australia and the neighboring New Zealand, penguins also reside among the penguins of Argentina, Chile, Namibia, South Africa, and even France (Ile aux Cochons an island owned by France in the exact sense).
There are 18 Or Perhaps more Species of Penguins
There’s some debate among scientists regarding the number of penguins they have. As per the IUCN Red List there are an additional 18 types of penguins to be found, which is a change from the previously acknowledged 17 species. The rockhopper penguin was used to be considered a single species however, in 2006, it was classified as two distinct species
: which was the Southern rockhopper penguin as well as northerly rockhopper penguin. 2 These two species have been accepted by the majority of researchers, but not everyone agrees. Others believe that some other penguin species should be split into two species too and the numbers could be at least 20 or 21 within the next few years.
Penguins have feathers, not Fur
One reason penguins can survive in extreme cold conditions is because they have feathersand not fur. The feathers of the penguin are so efficient in insulating birds that overheating is more of a concern in their case than staying warm.
Penguin feathers also have extraordinary properties, in addition to their incredible ability to insulate. They’re also icephobic which means they repel the ice. This is the reason they can dive into the freezing waters and then get soaked by waves of ocean, but not have black patches of ice over their feathers.
Researchers who have studied feathers
that repel ice have concluded that this ability could be due to 3 factors: “a unique combination of the feather’s macrostructure, the nanoscale barbules’ surface and the hydrophobicity and permeability of its preen oil.” This implies that the bigger-scale and microscopic structure of feathers, in addition to an oil that is secreted by the animal itself , and dispersed over its feathers keeps ice off the feathers. 3
As with all birds each year, penguins undergo a molting. Molting involves the removal of oldfeathers worn out and forming new feathers. Penguins are molting much faster than other birds however they go through a two to 5 week process. Scientists have studied the king penguins because of their dramatic molt that includes them mooring on the shore as the feathers fall off quickly. They lose about half their body weight which includes almost all their fat, and a bit of muscles, which they have to rebuild when their feathers begin to grow. 4
Penguins Do Not Have Teeth
Similar to their bird relatives penguins do not have teeth. However, they do have spines within their beaks they can appear tooth-like. They also have spines on their tongues. Both sets of spines point forwards. These spines allow them to keep prey like fish or other species inside their mouths. They could aid in swallowing also.
They eat a wide variety of Protein-rich Food
Penguins consume a variety of species of crustaceans and fish. Certain food choices are based on where they live as well as the kind of penguin that they are. Penguins that are larger can dive deeper into the water, and they may catch squid or cuttlefish. Smaller penguins scrape krill off the underside of the ice.
Penguins of smaller sizes can dive between 6 and 150 feet in the average however, king penguins are able to dive between 300 and up to 900 feet. 5 6Penguins are opportunistic. This means that they will eat whatever they find in line with their preferences. Different species of penguins, such as yellow-eyed penguins as well as king penguins, eat anything from crustaceans and squid to fish such as silverfish Sprats, sardines and pilchards, opal fish and other fish that are smaller.
7The birds eat the whole fish making it much easy to digest the food to feed their chicks. If they’re eating themselves, their gizzard will break the fish (instead of chewing it with teeth as ruminants and primates do).
Penguins are Monogamous But Only For the Season
In the breeding season, when penguins have decided on their mate, they remain with them, however they might or may choose to not pick the same mate again the following year. Penguins may lay two eggs in a season, but the most renowned species, such as the emperor or the king penguins, have only one egg. 8
The couple that is partnered shares the responsibility of incubation as well as turning eggs while keeping warm. Emperor penguins are one species where male penguins take the entire responsibility for incubating eggs. The penguins that are small have less than one egg brood each period. 9
Penguins can drink Salt Water
They are able to drink seawater due the supraorbital gland which is a gland that filters salt of their blood. Their system then pulls salt from their bodies through the penguin’s nose passageways.The biggest living penguin has to be the imperial penguin which can attain an average height of four inches.
10 However fossil evidence found during 2017 New Zealand revealed that human-sized penguins were once a common sight on the continent. They were alive in the 55-60 million year range. They most likely weighing between 220 and 220 pounds and were around 5 feet and about 10 inches in height. 11
The Penguins Were Once Giant Penguins
“That penguins with the size of the biggest species previously identified was present during the Paleocene suggests that the phenomenon of gigantism in penguins began shortly after these birds were able to fly,” wrote the researchers. This was not the first time that there were massive penguins that existed in prehistory however they are the most ancient and most significant that scientists have discovered thus far. 11
Yes all Penguins Have Black and White
Whatever location you spot them, or how big or small they may be All penguins are the type of penguin that scientists refer to as “countershaded.” They sport black backs, and the tops on their wings appear black as are their necks, their bellies, and breasts are white.
Their pattern of color is a great source of camouflage. Penguin predators such as Orcas or seal typically swim beneath them in the water and when they turn their heads they are unable to distinguish between penguins and water surfaces. From above their dark backs aren’t visible as they blend with the surrounding water. But, as the majority of penguins reside in polar areas which are usually covered in snow or ice They are easily visible on the land.
Color in Penguins is triggered by structures that are not seen in any other Animal
Penguins can be mostly white and black, but flashes of color like yellow or blue are important for signaling to the other penguins. Based on fossil evidence penguins from the past were more vibrant. 12
It’s interesting to note that they’ve developed distinct microstructures that you won’t find in other animal. This is because they’ve developed distinct patterns over time, which differ from the kinds of colors seen by other species of birds. But, unlike other species who typically consume specific foods to create pigmentation in their feathers penguins have the ability to create pigments within their feathers by themselves.