Hey, Penguin People!
Penguins are a favorite for lots and lots of people and it’s no surprise since they’re one of the most unique and interesting birds on our planet. Their species developed in what we call the ‘Era of the Mammals’—around the same time as the first horses, whales, and monkeys of the world. However, while penguins may have arrived at the same time, they aren’t mammals…or are they?
There is much debate as to how penguins should be classified. Clearly, they’re one of the rare species of flightless birds like ostriches, emus, cassowaries, certain ducks, auks, and a few others. But they also have blubber which is mainly a mammal thing. They also spend the vast majority of their life underwater like a fish, but they walk around on land too, as amphibians do.
How weird is that?! No wonder we have a day dedicated to this confusing bird! Celebrate Penguin Awareness Day with us and check out these facts that I put together about this amazingly bizarre bird!
They’re Not Slow.
Notorious for their upright posture and their waddling locomotion, penguins are typically depicted as slow-moving animals. This presumption, however, is completely inaccurate. In fact, there are some penguins out there, like the Adelie Penguin, that can actually move faster than most humans are able to run. And when they really need to cover some ground and FAST, they just hop on their bellies and move like toboggans!
They’re Not Fat, They’re…well, okay…they kind of are...
They need that layer to survive, though! As all marine mammals like seals, otters, orcas, and whales, penguins wear a layer of blubber under their skin too. The only bird with blubber, penguins are smart to have evolved with this trick of aquatic mammals—they would never survive the arctic temperatures without this special layer of fat.
They Drink Salt Water.
“Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”—such is the case when you’re lost at sea, but not if you’re a penguin. While salt water just won’t work with human bodies because of how salty it is, penguins can drink the stuff down all day. Thanks to a gland they have that actually filters the salt from the water, penguins will never die of dehydration by salt water.
They’re Not Afraid of Us.
Especially in comparison to other birds, penguins aren’t afraid of people. They don’t really have a reason to care much about us because penguins don’t typically have an abundance of land predators. What penguins need to watch out for are circling birds of prey overhead—that’s their biggest threat.
They Dress in Camo.
The black-and-white plumage of penguins—often associated with a white shirt and tailcoat—are actually camouflage. Camouflage from the water, that is. Their black backs are lost in the dark depths of the sea and their white stomachs are easily mistaken for the sunlight that reflects off the water’s surface. Of course, their black backs are easily seen against the snow, but I suppose it’s more important to be unseen in the water when you spend 75% of your life in the wet stuff!
It’s no wonder that we find these creatures so fascinating! Happy Penguin Awareness Day, Everyone! Learn more about our feathered friends here and, as always, thanks for reading.