16 Uncommon Facts About Penguins
When the word PENGUIN pops into the head, the first thing that comes to the mind is a tuxedo animal with a wobbly walk.
Penguins are adorable creatures. They are loved around the world due to their interesting characteristics. These include impressive swimming abilities, an upright waddling walk and guess what THEY DO NOT HOLD FEAR AGAINST HUMANS (amazing, no?).
Their eye catching black and white bodies is often referred to a white tie suit.
Penguins have always been a subject to many books and films. For example: happy feet, surf’s up and the most famous “The Penguins of Madagascar”.
They are one of the few animals which have a popular demand either in a cartoon or in real life.
Here a few facts about these cute tuxedoed birds.
1. They are BIRDS!
Penguins are one of the most amazing type of birds! Unlike the birds, you come across on daily basis.
The cold environment makes penguins pretty special. There are about 18 unique species of penguins across the world. The tuxedo-layered birds almost are decreasing in population and are considered endangered.
They are included in 17 flightless birds.
Their appearance is different from a bird but they hold all the characteristics of them i.e. they are warm-blooded animals, they lay eggs and have feathers. The feathers of penguins are short and stiff and the feathers overlap closely to form a thick layer that prevents air beneath it and acts as an insulator from the cold.
So, we are not going to question the fact that they are birds.
2. They do not live in the North Pole.
These 18 species of penguins do not reside in the North Pole (I believed it all my life. Well, seems like life is good at playing jokes. Looks like life played another joke).
These cute little wobbling birds reside in the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins are also found in South Africa, Chile, Peru, Lalagos Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Sub-Antarctic Islands. These birds are widespread in the cold regions of the world. In other words, penguins are found all over the world.
3. Lifespan Alert
The life span of a penguin could last from 6 to 27 years, varying among their species. Usually the species of penguin have a lifespan from 15 to 20 years. A certain species of penguins named as Magellanic penguins live up to 30 years. That is the longest life span that any penguin could survive.
Penguins usually tend to survive more as they are separated from any sorts of predators and have a reliable source of food.
This little wobbling bird could survive into adulthood as they are protected from the external threats. However, climate change has a vital impact on the lifespan of penguins. For instance, the natural environment of Antarctic Peninsula has been significantly disturbed in the past few years as a result Emperor penguins are at risk. A rapid increase in temperatures leads to reduction of the sea ice in cold regions affecting the food availability and mortality rates of chicks as they are not prepared to swim in the ocean.
The lifespan of a penguin is at risk with an alarming rate.
4. Their feathers do not freeze.
The fact, that they live in a very cold weather and get wet, ever wondered if their feathers freeze or remain free of ice. The possibilities behind it?
A man Wang and his research team sorted out this puzzle. The feathers were examined through scanning them with electron microscope.
Some scientists believed that their feathers’ have water repellency i.e. water would slide off the surface before having any chance to freeze.
The answer to this is the microstructure of penguins. Feathers of a penguin comprise of networks of barbs, wrinkled barbules, and tiny interlocking hooks. This structure is anti-adhesive due to which the ice does not stick to it.
5. They have flattened eyes.
Penguins have special flattened eyes that allow them to see both above the water and below the water, and the interesting fact is that penguins can see better in underwater. Regardless, of the fact that they live in the cold regions, their eyes have multiple blood vessels. This keeps their eyes from freezing and keeps them warm.
They have a special membrane over their eyes known as the nictating membrane. This transparent membrane acts as an extra eyelid, which keeps their eyes warm, especially when they are swimming.
6. They are very VOCAL
Penguins are very vocal. They have three types of calls.
Contract Call: This call identifies each other.
Display Call: This call is between the partners and is the distress sign.
Growling Call: Penguins make this call to threaten others. This call is accompanied by stares and gaps.
7. They slide on BELLIES
Apart from walking and jumping, penguins are the only birds that can move from place to place only by sliding through their belly. This method of transport is known as Tobogganing.
8. They often swallow pebbles and stones as food.
Penguins swallow pebbles and stones along with their food.
Scientists believe that they swallow stones because it helps them to grind up and digest their food. While, the stones add extra weight this helps the penguins to dive deeper.
9. Parenting Roles:
Emperor Penguin males protect their eggs for two months in the winter without eating for two months while the female penguin stays at the sea. During this time, male penguins survive on their fat reserves and lose up to half of their body weight. When female penguins return from the sea, the chicks have hatched until then. They switch their parental roles. Now the female penguins fast while the male penguins go to the sea to replenish their fat stores. Isn’t it amazing?
10. They are carnivorous birds.
Penguins are carnivorous that catch their food live from the sea. Now this is something not everyone knows.
Depending on the species of penguins, they eat a variety of marine animals, which include fish, squid, shrimp, krill, crabs and other crustaceans. Penguins have a specialized diet and because of this, they are known as piscivorous.
11. Production of Oil in Glands
The preen gland produces a waterproofing oil that penguins spread across their feathers which helps them insulate and reduce frictions when they glide through the water.
12. They have knees.
Penguins do have knees; you cannot just see them because they are hidden away under all those fluffy feathers. They do not have short legs without knees.
Still they waddle, because penguins have evolved to help them swim more efficiently. This makes walking more difficult, and as a result, the penguins waddle.
13. Penguins molt.
Penguins undergo a process called catastrophic molting. They replace all of their feathers in the time of a few weeks in this process. During this time, they cannot enter in to water since they do not have fat around in this period. Most of the birds replace their feathers slowly and gradually in a year, while the penguins have to go through this process once in a month.
14. They are teeth less birds.
Penguins, like all other birds, do not have teeth. They do have rearward-pointing tooth like barbs, on their tongue and roof of the mouth. They do not chew instead the barbs help them in swallowing their slippery prey.
15. Supra Orbital Gland
Eating so much seafood results in drinking a lot of salt water, but penguins have a way to remove the salt. The supra-orbital glands located just above their eyes, filters all the salt from their blood stream. It is then excreted through the bill or by sneezing.
Penguins drink melted water from pools and streams and then eat snow for their hydration fix.
16. They care for their feathers.
Penguins spend several hours a day caring for their feathers. Crazy no?
However, if a penguin does not keep them well maintained, then their feathers would not stay waterproof.
For extra protection of their feathers, penguins spread oil on their feathers, which comes from a special gland near their tail feathers.
16. They live as collective System:
Penguins are highly social birds. They always travel together in a group. Even at the sea, penguins usually swim and feed in groups. In Antarctica, colonies of penguins are of 20 million or more during the year.
Penguins have a unique way of attracting a mate. The king penguin, for instance sing long songs with their partners (how unique!). A certain species of penguin even gift their mate small pebbles or stones.
The female penguin who accepts the offer i.e. accepts the pebble, keeps it in her nest.
In penguins, bonding between partners is a vital part in raising a chick. They lay only one egg during their mating season.
Penguins under the classification of birds hold very unique characteristics whether it is a matter of finding a partner, or choosing a way to find food, or bringing up an infant. Due to these unique characteristics, they are the most researched and highly demanded birds by humans.