Information about penguins

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Note: This section about penguins is not finished yet. Still I put it online because some people might find it useful. If you are one of them, then please let me know.

Here are three pages with penguin information:

 

Penguins are birds. Most of them live in the sub-Antarctics and on Antarctica. However, the Galapagos penguin lives around the equator.
There are no penguins on the North pole, nor are there ice bears on the South pole.

Methods of propulsion

Penguins that live on ice sometimes use tobogganing as an alternative to waddling.
Tobogganing Adelie penguin
© Sean Todd
Used w/ permission

Unlike most other birds, penguins can't fly. They waddle on land and swim in the sea. When swimming fast, they jump out of the water every few meters, just like dolphins do. This is called porpoising.

On ice there is another method penguins sometimes use: tobogganing. They lie down on their belly and glide along like a toboggan, using their flippers and feet to push themselves forward.

Skin and colours

A molting Emperor penguin.
Molting Emperor
© Guillaume Dargaud
Used w/ permission

The top layer of a penguin's skin is made of thousands of small, stiff feathers. The air between the feathers is good insulation. To make their 'coat' even more water- and windproof penguins spread some oil on it (this oil comes from a gland above their tail). Below the feathers is a thick layer of blubber to keep the penguins warm.

Once a year, penguins shed their feathers and grow new ones. This is called molting. The old feathers come off in patches and at the same time new feathers grow. This takes about three weeks and during this period the penguins do not eat nor swim.

A Rockhopper penguin spreading its wings because it's too hot.
Rockhopper spreading its wings
© Dave Houston
Used w/ permission

All penguin backs are black and all bellies are white. This has to do with swimming camouflage: the black back looks like the bottom of the ocean and the white belly looks like the water surface. Some species, like king and emperor penguins, have yellow, orange or red areas on their head or neck.

Hot or freezing

When penguins are too warm they spread their flippers to release body heat. They can also ruffle their feathers to break up the insulating air layer.
When Emperor penguins are too cold they huddle together.