Commonly thought to be a mammal, the penguin is actually a flightless bird, which spends half of its life underwater and the other half on land.
Penguins have recently seen lots of media attention, with the box office hit Happy Feet and the documentary March of the Penguins that told the story of the long migrations of the aforementioned Emperor Penguins.
Still, if you want to check out some cool facts about penguins, take a look at these 25 facts about everyone’s favorite waddling birds:
1. There are believed to be 17 species of penguins. This includes the Aptendytes (Great penguins), Pygoscelis (Brush-Tailed penguins), Eudyptula (Little penguins), Megadyptes (Only 1 kind of Megadypte penguin survives), and Eudyptes (Crested penguins).
2. Through evolution, the penguin’s wings have evolved into flippers which are more adapted to aquatic life.
3. Most penguins can move at a total speed of up to 6 to 12 km/h (3.7 to 7.5 mph) while underwater, but the fastest penguin (The Gentoo Penguin) can achieve a remarkable top speeds of 36 Km/h (22 mph). Emperor penguins have also been known to dive as deep as 565 meters (1,870 feet) for 22 minutes – an absolutely incredible feat for a diving bird. Most penguins species however only stay underwater for around 4-5 minutes at a time, as most of their food can be gathered from very low depths.
4. Penguins bear a remarkable resemblance to birds in flight while swimming underwater.
5. Penguins have no presence in the Northern Hemisphere. However, they share remarkable resemblance to the Great Auk, a bird that went extinct in the 19th Century.
6. All penguins have natural camouflage against predators. The white front of a penguin will disguise it from predators looking from beneath them, and their black backs will disguise it from predators looking from above.
7. Penguins live in colonies, with the larger species (King and Emperor) living in colonies of up to thousands, while the smaller species number in the hundreds.
8. Penguins have no land based predators, but count leopard walruses and orca whales as dangerous predators when out at sea.
9. Penguins eat fish, krill and other small aquatic life forms.
10. Penguins are able to drink salt water due to the presence of a special gland within their bodies that filters excess salt from their blood stream. This allows them to live around salt-water bodies and survive as they do not need to find near fresh water.
11. Despite popular belief that penguins only life in cold, freezing climates, some penguins have been found as far south as the Galapagos Islands.
12. Penguins have no fear of human contact, this has been attributed to their absence of land based predators.
13. Emperor penguins are by far the most recognizable of penguin types. They are recognizable by their large size and the orange glow around their necks.
14. Emperor penguins stand upright at nearly 4 feet and weigh up to 90 pounds.
15. Emperor penguins live in symbiosis with their mates, once they lay an egg it the female and males take turns keeping the egg warm, while the other goes out to recover food.
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