Penguins….Did You Know?

By  | July 12, 2018 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

Early science thought penguins were mammals.  They later learned that the penguin is a flightless bird who spends half of its life underwater….but did you know….

Nobody really knows the root of the word “penguin”. The word has no English, French, Spanish or other romantic language roots. As there are no penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, it wasn’t until European explorers discovered them in the South that the world first appeared. It’s first referenced in English and Dutch as “pen gwyn” which in Welsh means “white head”.

Through evolution, the penguin’s wings have evolved into flippers which are more adapted to aquatic life.  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.  And did you also know….Penguins bear a remarkable resemblance to birds in flight while swimming underwater.penguins-underwater

On land, penguins use their tails to balance themselves in their typical, upright gait. They are able to move quite quickly by hopping on both feet, and sometimes do this to get over rocky terrain. Penguins are also able to “toboggan” by lying on their bellies and sliding down slopes and on icy terrain to save energy.

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.

penguin-city-facts0Penguins 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.

Penguins have no fear of human contact, this has been attributed to their absence of land based predators.

If a penguin couple loses its egg, it may sometimes try to “steal” an egg from another couple. This almost never works due to the proximity of the male or female to the egg.  Penguins can sometimes mate for life, whereas some species of penguins only mate for a season.Penguin-Facts

Unlike most animal species, penguins in captivity have been noted to engage in homosexual partnerships. This is extremely odd due to the limiting nature that this has on chances of breeding. This phenomenon has only been noted in penguins in captivity however, as penguins in the wild have never exhibited this.

Penguins exhibit remarkable community features, during the cold Antarctic winters where temperatures can go as low as -60 Celsius (-140 degrees Fahrenheit), penguins have been observed huddling in groups for warmth. One penguin stands in the middle while the others crowd around it, once it is warm, it moves to the outside and a new penguin takes its place.

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