In our last article on penguins we talked about their swimming speed and how they shed their feathers and they spend a lot of time preening. In case those facts weren’t sufficient enough for you, here is another round of Penguin facts to surprise you. For example, did you know, body coloring of penguins is known as countershading? Or, did you know humans harvested penguins’ excrement called guano? There are many such unusual facts listed here. So, relax and enjoy…
Weird Penguin Facts: 1-5
1. Penguins, which inhabit Antarctica and the areas near Antarctica, survive in huge numbers but the penguins, which are present in warmer climates, are less in number in comparison with the penguins residing in Antarctica and nearby areas.
2. Like polar bears are seen only in North Pole (Northern Hemisphere), penguins are seen only in Southern Hemisphere. However, they don’t limit themselves to South Pole.
3. Some species are found in New Zealand and Galapagos Penguins are endemic to Galapagos Islands, which is present near the equator. They may possibly enter Northern Hemisphere one day.
4. Only two species of penguins, the Adélie (Pygoscelis adeliae) and the Emperor Penguins live in Antarctica. Other species go for warmer climate areas.
5. Like dogs, penguins pant to overcome overheating issues. They ruffle their plumages and keep their wings away from the body to cool themselves down.
Weird Penguin Facts: 6-10
6. Penguins body coloring is called as “countershading” (darker color on the upper side of the body and lighter color on the lower side of the body). The penguins use this countershading as camouflage.
7. For the predators in the sky, the penguins’ black dorsal side gets mixed with ocean’s dark bluish color and for the predators in deep waters, the penguins’ white ventral side mixes with sky and snow.
8. Like humans, bonding is important for penguins. Males in each species have their own way of attracting females. King Penguins indulge themselves and their partners in music by singing long songs with partners. Gentoo male penguin brings pebbles to female as a form of gift.
9. Most of the penguins lay two eggs in their nest. But Emperor and King penguins lay only one egg and they don’t have their own nest (King penguins have nestling colonies but no nests).
10. How do they warm the eggs then? Keeping them on their feet and then they incubate them in their brood pouch.
Weird Penguin Facts: 11-15
11. When the chicks are born, they are vulnerable to ice cold water as they don’t have those waterproof feathers.
12. Till the down feathers of penguin chicks get replaced by the waterproof feathers, the baby penguins stay away from ocean and are totally dependent on their parents for their survival.
13. Humans didn’t leave penguins’ eggs as well. They used to eat their eggs. For feathers, skin, oil and fecal matter (called as guano), humans used to kill penguins. This led to the decrease in penguins’ population because the penguins use guano to build their nests and when the humans stole the guano, they had no option but to lay eggs out in the open. As you guessed many eggs were eaten by predators.
14. Guano’s color changes with the food penguin eats. For example: if penguin eats krill, then the guano will be pink and if it eats fish, it will be white.
15. Guano was harvested by humans because it was rich nitrogen and it worked as an excellent natural fertilizer.
Weird Penguin Facts:16-20
16. Larger a penguin is, colder is its environment and smaller a penguin is, warmer will be its environment.
17. Did you know that penguins of pre-historic times were as big as humans in height and weight? Lucky for us there are smaller versions of penguins available for us.
18. The largest of all penguins (which is extinct now) was the Anthropornis nordenskjoldi. It used to be of 1.7 to 1.8 meters.
19. The earliest penguin fossil was found in Antarctica (obviously) in 1980. They were named Waimanu manneringi. They lived some 60 million years ago. The name is derived from a Maori (Polynesian tribe of New Zealand) word which meant “water bird”. They were also flightless birds.
20. The origin of the word Penguin is highly debatable. Some say that it stemmed from Welsh word pen gywn meaning “white head”.
Weird Penguin Facts: 21-25
21. But its first usage was seen in 16th century as synonym for Greek word Auk. Some researchers assume the word to come from Latin word pinguis meaning “fat”.
22. They swim fast enough so that they can be propelled up for about 7 feet from the water. This is seen in dolphins as well. This technique is called as “porpoising”.
23. Smaller penguins don’t dive as deep as the bigger ones because they are weak and their bones are air-filled.
24. Unlike small penguins, big penguins’ bones are solid and Emperor penguins can dive to a depth of 1,870 feet and can remain in water for about 22 minutes.
25. In birds’ category, the Emperor penguin is ranked first when it comes to deep diving and also for longest duration for staying submerged.
Weird Penguin Facts: 26-30
26. In normal cases, the Emperor penguin’s heart rate is 60-70 times a minute but when it is about to dive the heart rate shoots up to 200 bpm (beats per minute) to store oxygen. The moment they touch water, the heart rate drops down to 100 bpm and slowly and gradually it decreases to 20 bpm.
27. Did you know that when they come to the water surface again, their heart rate goes back to 200 bpm?
28. Emperor penguins huddle together to stay warm in winters and unlike other cold climate living animals, they use their feathers for keeping themselves warm but not blubber (a layer of fat present under the skin). The feathers trap air and keep it warm, they simply insulate the penguins from the outside cold.
29. The children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three” was published in 2005 (authors were Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson). It talks about a homosexual Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) couple which were in Central Park Zoo in New York. Though it was based on a true story, the book became controversial.
30. Adélie penguin or Adelaide penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) got its name from the name of its discoverer’s wife. The discoverer was Jules Dumont d’Urville. His wife’s name was Adéle.