Movies like Penguins of Madagascar and Happy Feet have certainly brought the penguin to the forefront of kids’ imaginations, but what do you really know about this flightless bird? Today, let’s look at the adorable tuxedoed sea-fowl in 10 Facts About Penguins.
10. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. No kids, there are no penguins at the North Pole. But Santa does like to visit.
9. Of the 17 species of penguins, Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall and weighing between 50 and 100 pounds. Emperor Penguins are endemic to Antarctica and can dive over 1,700 feet deep.
8. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 12-13 inches. It is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand and averages about 3.3 pounds, but size varies by subspecies.
7. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph. The gentoo penguin is easily recognized by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of its head and its bright orange-red bill.
6. Penguins’ striking coloring is a matter of camouflage. From above, their black backs blend into the murkiness of the ocean. From below the water, their white bellies are hidden against the bright surface. Adult penguins have fewer large predators on land.
5. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes — the supraorbital gland — filters out the saltwater from their bloodstream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.
4. It varies by species, but many penguins will pair with the same mate season after season. Similarly, most are also loyal to their exact nesting spot, returning to the same rookery in which they hatched. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.
3. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception. They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.
2. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds. Let us know you can hear us by commenting your favorite animal below.
- The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the earth, in 1520, when the animals were caught near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. He called them “geese.”
Want more Facts About Penguins? Check these out.
- Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae)
- African penguins (Spheniscus demersus)
- Chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)
- Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)
- Erect-crested penguins (Eudyptes sclateri)
- Fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus)
- Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus)
- Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua)
- Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)
- King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus )
- Little (Blue) penguins (Eudyptula minor)
- Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus)
- Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus)
- Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome)
- Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli)
- Snares penguins (Eudyptes robustus)
- Yellow-eyed penguins (Megadyptes antipodes)
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