Penguins (lat.spheniscclassae) are a family of flightless seabirds, the only one in the order of penguins. All members of this family swim and dive well. Penguins are of ancient origin. Their habitat is limited to the Southern Hemisphere. Most penguin species live between 45 ° and 60 ° S latitude. Antarctica and nearby islands are home to the largest number of these birds.
The coloration of all individuals is almost uniform: the back is dark, the chest and belly are white. Tufted or colored feathers in some penguins complement their basic outfit. The average body length of a penguin ranges between 60 and 70 centimeters, and a weight between 5 and 6 kilograms. However, there are also larger species.
They spend a good half or even three-quarters of their lives in water (which is facilitated by both the structure and the shape of their body). These amazing birds feed on squid, fish, medium-sized marine invertebrates. This food makes it possible to accumulate fat reserves, which penguins consume during the period of incubation of the clutch or molt (at this time they do not feed).
The word "penguin" was invented much earlier than the birds themselves were discovered. The Europeans used this "name" for the auk that lived on the shores of the North Atlantic. Confusion arose after the discovery of true penguins. And even now the English word "penguin" means both penguins and those same wingless auk.
When Europeans first saw penguins, they mistook them for geese. They were sailors from Vasco da Gama's crew. Having met an unusual bird, we thought that it was a special kind of geese.
Penguins are the symbol of Antarctica. This is true, but only five species of penguins have adapted to living in such harsh conditions for life. It should be remembered that only the emperor penguins, who spend their entire lives in these parts, are the aborigines - the indigenous inhabitants of Antarctica. Other penguins leave Antarctica with the onset of autumn.
Penguins have a very special body structure, different from other birds. Their body shape is streamlined (which facilitates easy movement on water). The sternum of the penguin has a keel, which serves as a support for powerful muscles. Penguins need it for diving. All other flightless birds have no keel. Penguins have dense bones (unlike other birds, which have tubular bones that make it easier for them to fly).
Penguins live in colonies. These settlements are huge, the number of birds in them can reach several million. The place for the nest is chosen in accordance with the possible dangers: nests are made in shelters, if there is a possibility of attack by ground predators. Penguins nest openly on the islands. Scientists believe that penguins are the most social of all birds. However, there is always an exception to every rule. So it is in this case. For example, gorgeous penguins prefer to live in pairs, but they very, very rarely enter the colony.
The emperor penguin is the largest. Absolutely right. Its height is more than one meter, and its weight reaches 45 kg (mainly due to fat reserves).
The smallest penguin weighs only one kilogram. This is a small penguin. In principle, the name itself speaks for itself. Their body weight can be from one to two and a half kilograms. Body length - 30-40 centimeters. They inhabit mainly the southern shores of Australia, as well as on the northern and southern islands of New Zealand.
An emperor penguin chick hatches in winter. It is surprising, but, living in harsh conditions, emperor penguins breed in winter, when other birds move from these places to warmer ones. The female lays only one egg, which the male hides from the cold in the abdominal fold. The male remains in the colony, while the female goes to sea for feeding. When a chick is born in the middle of winter, the returning female feeds it with half-digested food stored in the stomach. The male, which by this time has lost more than half of the weight, passes the chick to the mother and goes to sea himself, where he spends a month and a half. It should be noted that the chick hatches from the egg naked and then overgrows with feathers for several weeks.
Penguins spend most of their life in the water. Penguins devote about 75% of their time to the aquatic environment. They are so adapted to it that their wings resemble the flippers of marine mammals, and almost all feathers are comparable to scales.
Penguins swim well. And not just good, but excellent! They can reach speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour.
The fastest way to get around is "Dolphin Swimming". The essence of this "method" is as follows: penguins, then dive, then jump out of the water, that is, their behavior resembles that of a dolphin. For what exactly they do this, it is not yet clear: either for speed, or to reduce resistance, or maybe in order to deceive their natural enemies.
Penguins dive well. The specific gravity of their body due to heavy bones and the absence of subcutaneous air sacs allows penguins to dive into water to a depth of more than two hundred meters. For example, emperor penguins can dive to a depth of one and a half kilometers! True, it has not yet been possible to find out what they are doing there.
On land, penguins hold their bodies upright. They have short and thick legs, which are also carried back (i.e. located behind the center of gravity). When moving, penguins also lean on their tail. They can only walk upright and take small steps. If there is a need for a faster movement, then they slide on the belly, pushing off the snow cover with their legs and wings.
Penguins have no sense of smell. Absent or very weak, as, indeed, in all birds.
Penguin eyes are perfectly adapted to living conditions in the aquatic environment. They have a flat cornea of the eyes, so outside the water the penguins are somewhat myopic. The contractile ability and distensibility of the pupil of penguins helps them, at a depth of up to one hundred meters, to quickly adapt to changing water light conditions.
Penguins are sensitive to water pollution. This is not surprising, especially when it comes to oil pollution. It (oil) clogs the feathers of these birds and enters their stomach. In this case, the water-repellent properties of the plumage are lost, and penguins that are completely exhausted can be thrown ashore.