Penguins are aquatic birds that spend about half their time on land and half their time at sea. Penguins are recognized because of their inability to fly and their ability to live in sub-zero temperatures. They can be found exclusively in the southern hemisphere, mostly in Antarctica. Despite the majority of penguins being found in Antarctica, only four of the approximate 17 known species breed on the Antarctic continent. Those four species are the Adelie, the Emperor, the Chinstrap and the Gentoo.
One of the most recognizable penguin qualities is their inability to fly which can be dated back millions of years. Recent research of the murre – a penguin-like bird that still has the ability to fly, indicates that ancestors of the penguin were awful flyers. As the penguins evolved, the ability to fly was given up in exchange for the ability to be extremely efficient swimmers, and divers. Penguins can swim as fast as 7 MPH and dive as deep as 1,500 feet.
Penguins use their ability to swim to gather food such as krill, fish, squid and other sealife. Unlike other animals of the sea, penguins all breed on land. The adult pairs take turns incubating the egg and raising the chick once hatched. To keep the egg warm during incubation, penguins will balance the egg on their feet where there is insulation from their feathers.
Despite being flightless, and more associated with the sea than the sky, the penguin is one of the most interesting and recognized birds in the world. Learn more about them and follow the journey of King Penguins in the newest film in Arizona Science Center’s IMAX® Theater, “Penguins 3D.”