30 Absolutely Delightful Facts You Never Knew About Penguins

They like "tobogganing" even more than humans!

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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.

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fairy penguin
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The smallest species is the Little Blue Penguin.

Also called little or fairy penguins, these 16-inch cuties would look teeny-tiny next to 4-feet-tall emperor penguins.

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adelie penguins
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Scientists still don't know for sure how many kinds there are.

Estimates usually fall in the , as there's still some debate over whether similar types of penguins (like rockhoppers) actually count as different species.

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diving penguins
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Penguins jump into the air before diving to swim faster.

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.

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magellanic penguins
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Explorers first called them "strange geese."

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).

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swimming penguin
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They can swim at speeds over 10 miles per hour.

Gentoos, the speediest penguins, can , but most species dart around at a more modest 4 to 7 mph.

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diving penguin
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And also dive down over 800 feet.

In the deepest dive ever recorded by the , an emperor penguin reached an amazing 1,850 feet. Those huge depths require a great lung capacity; the longest known dives have lasted 22 minutes!

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penguin in the water
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Penguins' suits act as camouflage.

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.

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penguin underwater
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They can drink seawater.

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!

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extinct penguins pachydyptes
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Some extinct penguins grew more than 5 feet tall.

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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penguin mouth
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​Penguins don't have teeth.

Fleshy spines inside help them swallow fish. The protrusions face backward to help guide the catch down their throats.

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penguin molting
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They go through a "catastrophic molt" once a year.

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.

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penguins kissing
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Some penguin species mate for life.

Gentoos, , and chinstraps especially . Adelie females can even find their old mates within minutes of arriving at the colony each season.

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penguin call
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Couples locate each other with distinct calls.

The unique sounds help them reunite on the breeding ground — a not-so-easy task when there are thousands of identical birds around.

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emperor penguins incubating
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Emperor penguins incubate eggs on their feet.

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!

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penguin family
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Pudgy penguins make good mates.

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.

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penguin jumping
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They're waterproof.

Penguins spread an oil produced by the preen gland that insulates their bodies and improves their hydrodynamics.

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emperor penguin colony
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Penguins are total social butterflies.

The largest penguin colonies — called rookeries or waddles when assembled on land — include hundreds of thousands of birds.

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penguins in a raft
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A group of penguins in the water is called a raft.

These avid swimmers spend up to of their lives out at sea!

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penguin colony
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Scientists can find penguins using poop.

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.

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swimming penguin
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Penguins are specially adapted to sink.

While most birds have hollow bones to facilitate flight, penguins have dense skeletons for easier diving, according to .

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curious african penguins
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They're super friendly with people.

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.

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giant auk
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Penguins get their name from a Canadian bird.

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.

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gentoo penguins nest
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Some penguins build pebble nests.

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.

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little penguin burrow
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Others dig out cozy burrows.

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.

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galapagos penguin
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Not all penguins live in the Arctic.

The Galápagos penguin stays nice and warm living near the equator. In fact, they're the found outside of the Southern Hemisphere.

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penguin chicks huddling
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Penguins huddle for warmth.

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.

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tobogganing penguins
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They love "tobogganing."

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?

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macaroni penguin
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Macaroni penguins were named for their fashion sense.

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.

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penguin chick
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Penguin chicks start out as little fluffballs.

Their first coat of feathers consists of a light down. The weatherproof layer grows in later, but they look quite cute in the meantime.

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emperor penguins
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Penguins started a movie fad.

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 .

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