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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Penguins

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Penguins are an old type of bird, having traces back to 45 million years ago. Penguins are said to be evolved from ostriches. Penguins, like all other birds are warm-blooded. The southern hemisphere is the only place you will find penguins. This is thought to be because of the way the islands coasts are structured. The rocky coasts found commonly in the northern hemisphere are dangerous to the penguins, because of their loss of cover. Contrary to belief, penguins live in more places than just cold regions. In fact, penguins have been seen to live as high north as Ecuador. Penguins feed under water, killing small fish for food. Penguins have a unique coloration that makes them popular. People compare this to that of a tuxedo. There is a reason behind this feature. When you look down into the water, it looks dark. That is why the penguins back is black. It blends in with the darkness of the deep water. When you look up from below the water, it looks bright. The penguins white front blends in with the brightness of the surface of the water.


The largest and smallest species of penguin are the emporer and fairy; respectively. The emporer is the most populous species on the planet. The taxonomy of the penguin are as follows kingdom, Animalia; phylum, Chordata; class, Aves; subclass, Impennes; order, Sphenisciformes; family, Spheniscidae. The major genuses of penguin are the Aptenodytes, Pygoscelis, Eudyptotes, Spheniscus, Eudyptula, and Megadyptes. One unique type is the crested penguins. These penguins have riffs of feathers around their head. The different species of crested penguins are easily identified by the coloration of these crests.


Penguins bodies are adapted to their environment very well. This is why they have been around for so long. Penguins must take in lots of food to complete their metabolic activities needed to stay warm. This has caused them to need a large stomach. For this they lose their ability to fly, but gain the ability to withstand the long periods of cold. Penguins feathers develop special oils that keep water away from the penguin. If it werent for this they would catch hypothermia very quickly. After time, these feathers will lose their oil and become damaged. Unlike hair, feathers grow once and never grow again. To repair their feathers they must go through a process called moulting. While moulting, all the penguins feathers fall off, and it grows new feathers. During this period, the penguin has little protection from water, so the penguin must stay on land. This is because the new feathers havent developed their oil yet. The whole moulting process usually takes three weeks. Before the penguin moults, it must take in large quantities of food, like the mammals do when they hibernate. The legs of a penguin are very small. They are covered in feathers, and hard to see. Penguins waddle on these small legs, not because the legs are small, but because it saves energy. Instead of having to move all the leg muscles, the penguin just needs to move a few. The penguin must keep all energy it can, because it gets its heat from energy. Blood travels to these legs in a special way. The blood is actually heated up when it is sent to the legs. This is to keep the legs very warm to keep from freezing to the ice. Penguins have developed a special eye. This eye has very strong light focus in front of the penguin and has very keen sense to blues. Reds and yellows are filtered out, because they are what causes the blur we humans see when we see under water. The penguins also have a disadvantage their field of view. Their eyes sight only overlaps at a small portion obove the beak.Without both eyes overlapping, it is hard to tell how far something is. However, their overlapping sight is very good below them. Because of this, a penguin will swim above its prey, then itll dive at it. If it just dived at it normally, it wouldnt know how far to dive.


Predators of the penguin are divided into two categories. Land and water killers. The land killers are the giant petrel, pedatory gulls, sheathbills, and some sea gulls will feed on penguin eggs. In some areas, even dingos, rats, cats, and dogs are the predators of the penguin. The water killers are leopard seals, fur seals, whales, and sharks. The whales and sharks only attack penguins of the tropical or sub-tropical environment. Penguins from New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia are most threatened by sharks. Penguins in the antartic are most threatened by seals.


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Penguins are said to be probably first seen by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Diaz, although no proof has been discovered of him actually seeing the penguin. The first recorded discovery was by Alvero Vello. He sailed with Vasco de Gama in 147, around the Cape of Good Hope. He wrote in his journal about penguins, for which he called otilicarios. He wrote Theyre as big as ducks, but cannot fly because they have no feathers on their wings. These birds, of which we slaughtered as many as we could, cried like donkeys.... Of course, he failed to realize that penguins do have feathers on their wings, so the reason they cant fly is not because of this.


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