7 Fun Facts about Penguins ...

Here's some fun facts about penguins that you might not know. Penguins are so cute that everyone loves them. But there's more to these adorable birds than you might think. They're not just cute and funny characters on TV! So here are some fun facts about penguins that you will like …

1. Species

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One of the facts about penguins is that there are at least 17 different species. Most of us have only heard of the King penguin and Emperor penguin, but others include the Gentoo and the Northern Rockhopper penguin. There's even an African penguin that is found on several islands off Southern Africa. And did you know that all penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere?

2. Speed

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The penguin can actually move pretty fast if it's being pursued by a predator! As anyone who's seen a penguin waddle can tell, they're not designed for fast movement on land. But in the water the Gentoo penguin can reach speeds of 22mph when it needs to - much faster than the fastest swimming speed a human has ever reached.

3. Parenting

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Aside from the business of laying eggs, penguin parents are pretty equal-opportunity. Both parents share the duty of incubating the eggs; one parent minds the egg while the other hunts for food. The Emperor penguin is the exception - dad minds the egg while mom is off hunting - and he doesn't get a meal for 60 days. That's a drastic diet!

4. Little & Large

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Penguin species vary quite a bit in size. At 1.1m (3' 7") and 77lb (35kg), the Emperor is the largest, as the name might suggest. The Little Glue is less than half that height and a fraction of the weight, at just 2.2lb (1kg). Not surprisingly, there is an enormous difference in the size of their eggs - 1lb or 450g and 2oz or 52g respectively.

5. Endangered

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Worryingly, many penguin species are now endangered - and a lot of this is down to human intervention. The Galapagos penguin has as little as 6-15,000 pairs, which is an extremely low number. Only a handful of species are not endangered or at risk - and the Emperor penguin could soon be added to the danger list.

6. Camouflage

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Have you ever wondered why penguins have their cute 'dinner suit' coloring? Its purpose is to act as camouflage when they are in the water. Their dark backs and white fronts help conceal them from their main predator, seals. From above, they blend into the dark waters, and from below, they blend into the lighter sky. Clever, isn't it?

7. Ancestors

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Penguins have been around a lot longer than humans. Their ancestors date back around 70 million years, which is considerably more ancient than human ancestry (less than 2 million years). The earliest penguin fossil dates back 62 million years, and at that stage they were already flightless, although their wings hadn't yet evolved into flippers.

Penguins are so popular that they've featured in many books and movies, but the real birds are every bit as interesting. We need to help preserve their habitats and reduce the impact of human activity and climate change on these beautiful birds. Otherwise we could see them decline and disappear like so many other species. Who's your favorite book or movie penguin?

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