Temporal range: Palaeocene-Recent
|Gentoo Penguin, Pygoscelis papua|
Physical description[change | change source]
All penguins have a white belly and a dark (mostly black) back. Penguins cannot fly, but they can swim very well, because their wings have turned into flippers. They can't fly because their wings are stiff and small. They have good hearing and can see underwater. The white and black colors are for camouflage (to help them hide) when they swim. So, when a predator looking from underwater sees the white belly and wings of the penguin, they can not see it well with the light coming from above. Seen from above, the penguin's black back blends in with the dark water.
The biggest penguins may stand nearly 4 feet tall (110 cm) and can weigh almost 100 pounds (40 Kg). The smallest kinds are only about one foot (32 cm) tall. Penguins have a thick layer of blubber that helps them keep warm, and their feathers are very tightly packed to make another cover. They also have a layer of woolly down under the feathers that are coated with a type of oil that makes them waterproof.
Life[change | change source]
Penguins eat krill, fish, squid, and other small animals from the ocean, which they catch. They are at home in the ocean. They come up on the land or ice to lay their eggs and raise the chicks. The animals all nest together in a huge group, called a . They usually make nests on the ground with rocks or mud.
After the penguins mate, the mother lays her egg on the ice before winter. She lets the father take care of it by putting it on his foot and covering it up with his warm belly. The mother then goes for two months to live in the ocean, eating and eating, and getting fat. The fathers all huddle together in a group to help protect each others' eggs. They do not eat anything, but live off of the fat on their bodies.
When the baby penguin comes out of the egg, the father gives it a milk-like liquid that he makes inside his throat. Soon, the mother joins them and gives the baby some food. The hungry father will go out to the ocean and find some food. He will return after weeks and then the two of the parents will take turns going out, finding food, and coming back to take care of their chick.
Different kinds[change | change source]
There are 16-19 living species (types) of penguins. The White-flippered Penguin is today generally considered a subspecies of the Little Penguin. It is still unclear if the Royal Penguin is a subspecies of the Macaroni Penguin. It is also possible that northern and southern Rockhopper Penguins are separate species. It is a common misconception that some species of penguins withhold pouches, however, this is not true.
List of penguins[change | change source]
- Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)
Images[change | change source]
Little Penguins at the zoo in Melbourne.
Other pages[change | change source]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Spheniscidae|
|Wikispecies has information on: Spheniscidae.|
Other websites[change | change source]
- Penguin Citizendium