They're speedy swimmers, adorable waddlers, and . What's not to love about penguins? In honor of Penguin Awareness Day, we've rounded up some of the best trivia about the cutest birds on the planet.
Also called little or fairy penguins, these 16-inch cuties would look teeny-tiny next to 4-feet-tall emperor penguins.
Estimates usually fall in the , as there's still some debate over whether similar types of penguins (like rockhoppers) actually count as different species.
The move releases air bubbles from their feathers, cutting down on drag and doubling or tripling their speed underwater, according to . To make the leap back ashore, some smaller penguins can launch themselves by speedily swimming to the surface and bursting up over the ice shelf.
That's what crew member Antonio Pigafetta wrote on Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe, reports. The birds he most likely spotted in the Falkland Islands now go by the name Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus).
Gentoos, the speediest penguins, can , but most species dart around at a more modest 4 to 7 mph.
Their black backs blend with the ocean water when seen from above, and the white bellies match the bright surface when viewed from below. This disguises them from predators like leopard seals and helps them catch prey like fish, squid, crabs, and krill.
While penguins sip meltwater from pools and streams when they're thirsty, their hunting style and diet necessitates a cool adaptation. A supraorbital gland located above their eye removes salt from the bloodstream. The excess sodium then comes out through the bill or by sneezing!
indicate that an ancient breed of penguins once stood taller than the average adult man today at 5-foot-10. Back in its heyday 60 million years ago, Kumimanu biceae probably weighed 220 pounds. Another extinct genus (pictured) also probably reached about 4 feet.
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Fleshy spines inside help them swallow fish. The protrusions face backward to help guide the catch down their throats.
Penguins lose all of their feathers during the two- to three-week process, and can't swim or fish until the important insulation grows back.
Gentoos, , and chinstraps especially . Adelie females can even find their old mates within minutes of arriving at the colony each season.
The unique sounds help them reunite on the breeding ground — a not-so-easy task when there are thousands of identical birds around.
The male penguins keep them warm under a loose fold of skin. They stay that way for months until the — not leaving even to eat!
Because of the intense fasting involved, the females chubbier guys who can go weeks without food as the ladies take a turn to hunt for fish.
Penguins spread an oil produced by the preen gland that insulates their bodies and improves their hydrodynamics.
The largest penguin colonies — called rookeries or waddles when assembled on land — include hundreds of thousands of birds.
These avid swimmers spend up to of their lives out at sea!
The abundance of dark excrement (called guano) produced by large colonies allows researchers to see the groups from space! The smelly giveaway just revealed a of Adelie penguins in the Danger Islands.
While most birds have hollow bones to facilitate flight, penguins have dense skeletons for easier diving, according to .
Penguins' main predators (seals, sea lions, whales, and sharks) all reside in the water, so these birds feel much safer on land around researchers and tourists — for better or for worse.
The now-extinct giant auk looked like the funny black-and-white creatures explorers encountered in the Southern Hemisphere, so they used the scientific name Pinguinus impennis as inspiration.
Gentoo penguins' "nests" look so ramshackle that ornithologists actually call them . The parents do line the pile of rocks with soft moss and feathers, though.
tunnel holes in the sand dunes, typically a passageway leading to a "nest bowl" just large enough to stand up in. The males and females take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks until they reach about 8 or 9 weeks old.
The Galápagos penguin stays nice and warm living near the equator. In fact, they're the found outside of the Southern Hemisphere.
Emperor penguins have perfected their group hugs to a science, with some birds in the middle actually in negative-degree temperatures and needing to waddle their way out. Then the guys on the outskirts get their turn soaking up the heat.
Instead of shuffling across the ice, many penguins like to lay on their stomachs and with their feet. It's often a faster way to get around and it's just plain fun, okay?
You know the song "Yankee Doodle?" In 18th-century England, a referred to an extremely stylish fellow. These little guys' spiky yellow crests definitely qualify.
Their first coat of feathers consists of a light down. The weatherproof layer grows in later, but they look quite cute in the meantime.
named them one of the best things of the '00s thanks to popular flicks , , and — and that's not even including the scheming penguins of that later nabbed .