Monday, December 5, 2011

Interesting facts about penguins

Emperor penguins are the largest species of penguins in the world, they can achieve height over 1 meter and weigh more than 35 kg.

Emperor penguins that live in Antarctica form tightly packed huddles and coordinate their movements to give all members of the huddle a chance to warm up in order to survive temperatures below -50 ° C and winds above 180 km/h during the Antarctic winter.

Penguins are amazing divers, and they also posses the ability to dive long after their muscles run out of oxygen. Once Antarctic Emperor penguin dives it may not emerge again for another 20 minutes because of its ability to switch to anaerobic metabolism in some tissues. Emperor Penguins are master divers and the scientists have measured a record dive reaching a depth of 565 m (1,870 ft). They also have excellent underwater vision.

Penguins cannot fly, their wings are in fact flippers but are therefore highly adapted to life in water. When penguin swims this in fact looks very similar to bird's flight in the air.

The scientists have found the evidences that some prehistoric species of penguins were as tall and as heavy as humans. However, these predecessors of today's penguins loved much warmer climate to live in. The New Zealand Giant Penguin weighed around 80 kg and was more than 1,80m tall. These gigantic penguin species vanished by the end of the Paleogene around 25 million years ago.

Scientists still do not fully agree on the exact number of penguin species in our planet because there are uncertainties whether certain penguin species should be considered to be a separate species. There are between 17-20 penguin species.

Penguin's color is their great camouflage that gives predators such as orcas great difficulty in catching them because it is not easy to distinguish a white penguin belly from the reflective water surface.

Penguins can be often spotted tobogganing (sliding on their bellies on snow) because this gives them ability to move quickly without using too much energy.

Not all penguins have black plumage as from time to time penguins are born with brown plumage. These penguins are called Isabelline penguins.

The largest penguin populations can be found at Antarctica, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.

During a breeding season penguins form monogamous relationships. The incubation duties are shared equally among male and female in all species except the Emperor penguin where male does it all.

Penguins are generally not afraid of the humans because they are accustomed to life in the environment without the land predators.

Penguins also belong to animal species that sometimes form homosexual male couples. The reports from the Zoo in Japan showed that some male penguin couples have build nests together and have used a stone as a substitute for an egg.