Facts About Penguins: 50 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know

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“Facts About Penguins: 50 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know” unveils the captivating world of these remarkable birds. Discover their incredible adaptations, surprising behaviors, and the astonishing diversity among different penguin species. From Antarctic explorers to quirky habits, delve into the fascinating lives of penguins that continue to intrigue and inspire.

1 Lala the King Penguin

Lala the King Penguin

King penguin Lala, injured and nursed back to health in Japan, didn’t leave his rescuers. The family adopted him, and he lived in an air-conditioned room. He regularly walked around the neighborhood and got fish from the store. He lived with the family for 10 years before dying of old age in 1996.


2. The 20,000 landmines used during the Britain-Argentina conflict over the Falklands have led to a booming population of penguins. Cows and humans avoid the fenced-off fields, but penguins are too light to set off the mines. Thus, the deadly fields have turned into penguin sanctuaries.


3. People named penguins for their resemblance to “penguins,” a now-extinct bird unrelated to modern penguins.


4. In 2011, Joao found a penguin (Dindim) covered in oil and nearly dead. He worked feverishly to save its life, brought it back to health, and released him. Every year since then, Dindim swims 8,000 km to meet and live with Joao in Brazil.


5. Scientists discovered that penguins sleep more deeply in the afternoon by creeping up on sleeping king penguins at different times of the day and poking them with a stick until they woke up. Scientists’ curiosity is what uncovered this fact about penguin sleep patterns, highlighting that sometimes it is necessary to use unconventional methods in science to better understand animal habits.


6 Penguins’ Safety Test

Penguins' Safety Test

Penguins often push a fellow penguin into the water to check if the area is safe and free of predators.


7. Only the Southern Hemisphere is home to all 17 species of penguins. Emperor penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.


8. Chinstrap penguins take more than 10,000 micronaps a day to stay vigilant and guard their eggs. This fact about penguins underscores their dedication to protecting their offspring.


9. Male Gentoo penguins propose to females with a pebble. If the female accepts the pebble, they become a mated pair and use it to build their nest.


10. Between 1911 and 1912, George Murray Levick observed a breeding cycle of Adelie penguins on Cape Adare. He found them practicing homosexuality, necrophilia, and abuse. He suppressed the study, only publishing it in 2012, deeming it “too shocking.” This fact about penguins highlights how the personal biases of researchers can sometimes influence the data they wish to publish or withhold.


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11 Penguin Diagrams in Physics

Penguin Diagrams in Physics

After particle physicist John Ellis lost a bet, he had to include the word “penguin” in his next scientific paper. After struggling to find a way to include the word, he “smoked some illegal substance,” which inspired the now-important Penguin Diagrams. Quantum field theory now uses these diagrams to represent specific types of particle interactions.


12. At temperatures of -20°C or below, Emperor Penguins form a huddle (like rugby players) to stay warm. The temperature inside the huddle can sometimes get so high (37°C) that some penguins come out and eat ice to cool off a bit.


13. Penguins can drink saltwater because of special glands near their eyes that remove salt from their bloodstream, allowing them to sneeze out the extra salt.


14. When foxes discovered fairy penguins on a small Australian island, they nearly wiped out the colony. Swampy Marsh, a chicken farmer, started sending Maremma dogs to protect the birds. Over the next 10 years, not a single penguin was killed by a fox.


15. The Adélie Penguin engages in prostitution. Some female penguins, whether single or attached, provide sex for stones, which they will then use to build their nests.


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16 Nils Olav III Knighted

Nils Olav III Knighted

In 2008, the King of Norway knighted a penguin named Nils Olav III, who lives at Edinburgh Zoo. The King described him as a penguin, “in every way qualified to receive the honor and dignity of knighthood.” He is the Norwegian army’s brigadier and commander-in-chief.


17. Researchers have found fossils of a “Mega Penguin” that stood over 6 feet tall and weighed over 250 pounds. Bones found at Seymour Island indicate that, 37 to 40 million years ago, penguins stood at a formidable 6 feet tall.


18. The Emperor Penguin can dive to a depth of 1,850 feet (565 meters)-deeper than any other bird and deeper than the operational range of most naval submarines.


19. Penguins actually have long, human-like legs hidden under their feathers.


20. Male penguins don’t have external genitalia and engage in a unique mating process where they “rub holes” to have sex.


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21 Great Auk Extinction – Facts About Penguins

Great Auk Extinction

Scottish villagers killed the last of the 3-foot penguin-like animals, the Great Auk, believing it to be a witch. Despite numerous laws to protect them, scientists in the 1600s failed to prevent their demise. In 1840, some men believed the last auk in Scotland was causing storms, so they beat it to death with sticks.


22. In 2023, scientists discovered a new extinct species of “ridiculously cute” tiny penguins in New Zealand. They had narrower skulls, weighing 2 pounds and standing 13.5 inches tall. They named the species Eudyptula wilsonae, or Wilson’s little penguin.


23. Grape-kun, a Humboldt penguin who lived in a Japanese zoo, grew so attached to a cardboard cutout of an anime girl that he kept it as his ‘waifu’ until his death.


24. Gentoo penguins are not only fiercely monogamous but also violently banish any “cheaters” from their colonies.


25. Tokyo has a bar where you can have drinks with penguins.


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