100 Facts About Penguins You Don't Know!

Facts About Penguins: Penguin is an aquatic bird that lives in water. These mostly live only in the southern hemisphere. However, only one penguin species lives in the northern part of the equator. They are capable of swimming in the ocean with their two feather-like feathers. They spend half of their lives on land and the rest at sea.

The largest of the penguin species is the Emperor Penguin. It grows to a height of about 1.1 meters and weighs 35 kilograms or more. The little blue penguin or fairy penguin is the smallest type of penguin. It normally ranges in height from 35 cm to 40 cm and weighs about one kilogram. Larger penguins are generally better able to absorb heat and can survive in colder climates. Small penguin species are found in temperate or subtropical regions.

100 Facts About Penguins You Don't Know!

Amazing Facts About Penguins

  • Penguins typically are not afraid of humans.
  • Penguins in Antarctica have no land based predators.
  • Crested penguins have yellow crests, as well as red bills and eyes.
  • A penguin’s normal body temperature is approximately 100° F (38° C).
  • Penguins mate, nest, and raise their chicks in a place called a “rookery.”
  • Penguins eat a range of fish and other sealife that they catch underwater.
  • All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to one thousand birds.
  • If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.
  • Some prehistoric penguins were very large, growing nearly as tall and heavy as a human.
  • The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.
  • Emperor Penguins have the longest uninterrupted incubation time of any bird at 64-67 days.
  • Even though penguins spend much of their lives at sea, they all return to land to lay eggs.
  • Generally, penguins are not sexually dimorphic, meaning male and female penguins look alike.
  • The fastest underwater swimming bird is the Gentoo Penguin, able to swim up to 22 mph (36 km/h).
  • Little Blue Penguins are the smallest type of penguin, averaging around 33 cm (13 in) in height.
  • Most penguins are found in South Africa, New Zealand, Chili, Antarctica, Argentina, and Australia.

Facts About Penguins for Kids

  • While other birds have wings for flying, penguins have adapted flippers to help them swim in the water.
  • The Emperor Penguin is the tallest of all penguin species, reaching as tall as 120 cm (47 in) in height.
  • A wild penguin typically lives between 15-20 years, spending approximately 75% of their lives in the water.
  • The penguin with the highest number of species is the Macaroni Penguin, with approximately 11,654,000 pairs.
  • It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.
  • Large penguin populations can be found in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
  • Penguins can stay underwater for 10-15 minutes before coming to the surface to breathe. Penguins cannot breath underwater.
  • Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.
  • Larger penguins usually live in cooler regions. Smaller penguins are typically found in more temperate and tropical climates.
  • Yellow eyed penguins (or Hoiho) are endangered penguins native to New Zealand. Their population is believed to be around 4000.
  • Penguins can drink salt water because they have a special gland, the supraorbital gland, that filters salt from the bloodstream.
  • Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.
  • King penguins can form nesting colonies of up to 10,000 penguins. Each penguin keeps its neighbor at an exact but close distance.
  • Penguins’ eyes work better under water than they do in air. Many scientists believe penguins are extremely short-sighted on land.

Cool Facts About Penguins

  • Emperor Penguins are the largest penguins in the world and stand up to 4 feet (1.2 m) high and weigh as much as 100 pounds (45.3 kg).
  • Most penguins can swim 5-6 miles per hour, and some can have bursts of speed of up to 15 mph. They can walk between 1.7 mph and 2.4 mph.
  • The Galapagos Penguin lives farther north than any other penguin and is the only penguin that might venture into the Northern Hemisphere.
  • To keep from overheating, penguins pant like dogs to cool off. They also ruffle their feathers and hold their wings away from their bodies.
  • Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.
  • Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.
  • Emperor Penguins are the main characters in the 2006 movie Happy Feet. And more than 30 countries have featured Emperor Penguins on their stamps.
  • While Chinstrap Penguins look dignified and gentleman-like, their exceptionally loud cries have earned them the nickname “Stonecracker” penguins.
  • An adult male Emperor Penguin is the longest-fasting bird. It will not eat for approximately 115 days during its chick’s incubation/hatching period.
  • An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.
  • Emperor Penguins are the fifth heaviest of all bird species, although an adult male will lose about 26 pounds while he waits for a penguin chick to hatch.
  • A group of young penguin chicks is called a “crèche.” A group of penguins in the water is called a “raft.” A group of penguins on land is called a “waddle.”
  • Most scientists agree that there are 17 species of penguins. Of the 17 species, 13 are either threatened or endangered, with some on the brink of extinction.

Facts About Penguins in Antarctica

  • All penguins except the Emperor Penguin share incubation duties with their mate. Still, Emperor Penguins manage to get 75% of their young to self-sufficiency.
  • Penguins can control the blood flow to their extremities in order to reduce the amount of blood that gets cold, but not enough so that their extremities freeze.
  • Penguins often slide on their tummies over ice and snow. This is called tobogganing. Researchers believe they do this for fun and as an efficient way to travel.
  • Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • 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.
  • Penguins that live in and around Antarctica tend to survive in large numbers. Penguins that live in more temperate climates are more likely to suffer population declines.
  • Yellow-eyed Penguins (Megadyptes antipodes), the third-largest penguins, have yellow cat-like eyes. They live along the coastal shores of New Zealand and neighboring islands.
  • The most rare penguin in the world is the Yellow-eyed Penguin, with only around 5,000 living in the wild. They live along the southeastern coast of New Zealand and nearby islands.
  • Penguins swim so fast that they can propel themselves over 7 feet (2 meters) above water. The technique they use to cut through waves like dolphins or porpoises is called “porpoising.”
  • Penguins lost their ability to fly millions of year ago. However, they are the fastest-swimming and deepest-diving species of any bird. Penguins are also the most aquatic of all birds.
  • Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

Fun Facts About Penguins for Kids

  • Penguins are one of about 40 species of flightless birds. Other flightless birds include rheas, cassowaries, kiwis, ostriches, and emus. Most flightless birds live in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.
  • Penguins have more feathers than most other birds, averaging approximately 70 feathers per square inch. The Emperor Penguin has the most of any bird, at around 100 feathers per one square inch.
  • Only two species, the Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and the Emperor Penguins, live on the frozen land of Antarctica. Most penguins live farther north, in New Zealand or along the coast of South America.
  • Penguins do not have teeth. Instead they use their beak to grab and hold wiggling prey. They have spines on the roof of their beak to help them get a good grip. Penguins even have spines on their tongues.
  • Emperor Penguins have the widest variety of vocalizations of all penguins. Scientists believe this is because they have no fixed nest site and must rely on vocal calls alone to find their chicks and mate.
  • Penguins usually enter and leave the sea in large groups. Scientists believe this is for “safety in numbers.” By blending into a crowd, an individual penguin may avoid catching the attention of a predator.
  • Out of all the penguin and bird species, the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) breeds in the coldest environment. Air temperatures may reach -40° F (-40° C) and wind speeds may reach 89 mph (144 km/hr).
  • Penguins swallow pebbles and stones as well as their food. Scientists believe that the stones may help grind up and digest their food. The stones may also add enough extra weight to help penguins dive deeper.
  • Most penguin species breed during the spring and summer. Egg incubation varies from 1 month to 67 days, depending on the species. The Emperor Penguin is the only penguin that breeds during the Antarctic winter.

Interesting Facts About Penguins

  • Penguins are highly social birds. Even at sea, penguins usually swim and feed in groups. Some penguin colonies on Antarctica are huge and can contain 20 million or more penguins at various times during the year.
  • The 2005 children’s book And Tango Makes Three, based on a true story, is about a homosexual Chinstrap Penguin couple in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book is listed on the 15 Most Controversial Picture Books.
  • Gentoo Penguins (Pygoscelis papua) can grow up to 30 inches tall and weigh up to 13 pounds. They are different than other penguins because they have a colorful orange bill, and no other penguin has such a big tail.
  • Penguin nesting areas are called “rookeries” and may contain thousands of pairs of birds. Each penguin has a distinct call, which allows individual penguins to find their mates and chicks even in the largest groups.
  • When penguin chicks hatch, they are not waterproof, so they must stay out of the ocean. They depend on their parents to bring them food and to keep them warm until waterproof feathers replace their fluffy down coats.
  • In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.
  • Approximately 1 in 50,000 penguins is born with brown plumage rather than black. These are called isabelline penguins. They live shorter lives than other penguins because they are less camouflaged and often do not mate.
  • Little (a.k.a. Blue or Fairy) Penguins (Eudyptula minor) are the smallest of all the penguins. They stand 16 inches high and weigh just 2 pounds. They live in the warmer waters around Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.

Facts About Penguins Habitat

  • Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) get their name from the long, orange, yellow, and black feathery crests above their eyes. They were named after “macaroni dandies,” whose hairstyle was fashionable in the 18th century.
  • All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, from Antarctica to the warmer waters of the Galapagos Islands near the equator. They can be found on every continent in the Southern Hemisphere. No penguins live at the North Pole.
  • 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 blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.
  • King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are second in size only to Emperors. A King is almost 3 feet tall and can weigh nearly 35 pounds. Kings don’t waddle the way most penguins do. Instead, they run fairly quickly on their feet.
  • The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is named after Ferdinand Magellan, who first saw them in 1520. Oil spills kill approximately 20,000 adult and 22,000 juvenile Magellanic Penguins off the coast of Argentina every year.
  • Most penguin species lay two eggs. However, Emperor and King Penguins, the two largest species, build no nest at all and lay just a single egg. They warm their eggs on their feet and cover it with a flap of skin called a “brood pouch.”
  • The earliest known penguin fossil is the Waimanu manneringi, which dates from about 60 million years ago. The fossil was discovered in Antarctica in 1980. Its name comes from Maori term for “water bird.” They were also flightless birds.
  • Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.
  • A Penguin’s black and white plumage serves as camouflage while swimming. The black plumage on their back is hard to see from above, while the white plumage on their front looks like the sun reflecting off the surface of the water when seen from below.
  • The world's second-largest colony of emperor penguins has nearly disappeared after changes in sea/ice conditions made their breeding ground unstable. The species might lose anywhere between 50% and 70% of its global population by the end of this century.
  • Penguin etymology is debated. Several scholars claim the word is derived from the Welsh pen gwyn, or “white head.” It originally appeared in the 16th century as a synonym for Great Auk. Other researches believe it is related to the Latin pinguis, or “fat.”
  • Penguins molt, or lose their feathers, once a year. They always molt on land or ice and until they grow new waterproof coats, they are unable to go into the water. Molting may take weeks, and most penguins lose about half their body weight during this time.

Weird Facts About Penguins

  • The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")
  • Penguins’ unique coloring is called countershading. To predators looking down from above, the penguins’ black backs help them blend into the dark ocean. To predators looking up from underwater, the penguin’s white belly blends in against the light sky and snow.
  • When compared proportionally to the weight of the parent birds, penguin eggs are smaller than any other bird species. Additionally, a penguin eggshell constitutes 10-16% of the weight of a penguin egg, most likely to minimize risk of breakage in rough environments.
  • Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus) get their name from a thin black line that circles under their chin, like a strap on a helmet. Chinstrap Penguin colonies may reach up to one million penguins. They are among the boldest and most aggressive of all penguins.
  • Different penguins species have different ways of attracting a mate. King Penguins, for example, sing long songs with their partners. Gentoo Penguin males give their mates gifts of small pebbles or stones. For penguins, bonding is an important part of raising a chick.
  • Penguins find all their food in the sea and are carnivores. They eat mostly fish and squid. They also eat crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp, and krill. A large penguin can collect up to 30 fish in one dive. Penguins (and any animal) that eat only fish are called piscivorous.
  • Penguins spend several hours a day preening or caring for their feathers. If penguins don’t keep them well maintained, their feathers would not stay waterproof. For extra protection, penguins spread oil on their feathers. The oil comes from a special gland near their tail feathers.
  • 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.
  • In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.
  • While some penguins mate for life or until a partner dies, some penguins often mate with new partners while the old ones are still alive and in the same colony. Some researchers have noted that male and female penguins sometimes “cheat” on their partners, even while they are nesting and raising young with another penguin.
  • In 2012, scientists discovered that a primary reason penguins can swim so fast is that they have a special “bubble boost.” When penguins fluff their feathers, they release bubbles that reduce the density of the water around them. The bubbles act as lubrication that decreases water viscosity, similar to competitive swimsuits.
  • In the past, people ate penguin eggs. They also killed adult penguins for their feathers, skin, and oil. People also used penguin droppings (guano) to fertilize the soil and help grow crops. While this seems harmless, some penguins use guano to make their nests. When the guano was gone, they had to lay their eggs on the bare ground, where they were more susceptible to predators.
  • The Erect-crested Penguin (Eudyptes sclateri) has lost approximately 70% of its population over the last 20 years. The Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) has lost over 50% since the 1970s, and their chance of becoming extinct this century is 30%. The most common threats to all penguin survival are pollution, loss of habitat by human encroachment, commercial fishing, oil dumping, algae blooms, and global warming.
  • Smaller penguins usually do not dive as deep as larger penguins. Larger penguins, such as Emperor Penguins, can dive as far as 1,870 feet for as long as 22 minutes, making it the deepest-diving non flying bird and the longest submerged bird. An Emperor Penguin has solid bones rather than air-filled bones, which eliminates the risk of barotrauma. Their heart rate slows to 15-20 beats per minute and nonessential organs shut down during long dives.

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