The origin of the beloved penguin waddle begins with the extinction of the dinosaurs, which killed most oceanic predators like sharks and reptiles. This allowed certain birds to dive into the water for food, and over generations their wings turned to strong flippers, their legs shrunk, and they became flightless. Eventually, their bird-like horizontal posture gave way to a vertical “standing” waddle that we recognize today.
According to information from the Antarctica government, the Emperor penguin is capable of a 22-minute underwater stay, up to a depth of 984 feet. The length of a typical stay is three to six minutes.
According to Falklands Conservation, penguins can swim at speeds of up to 17 mph; however, they normally average between 9 and 15 mph. Penguins can also dive further and swim faster than any other bird.
Land predators of the various penguin species include lizards, skuas, snakes, other birds and ferrets. Water predators consist largely of killer whales, leopard seals and sharks. While penguins are now protected, humans have been known to hunt them illegally for their oil and eggs.
Penguins raise their chicks with dedication from egg to adolescence, when they are old enough to enter the water. According to Sea World, scientists believe the different coloration of penguin chicks encourages parenting behavior in adults. Both parents feed their chick, which they recognize by its call, by regurgitating food into its mouth.
According to About.com, penguins are carnivores with piscivorous diets, and their diet consists mainly of fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. Penguins are opportunistic feeders, and their diet is largely based on what is available seasonally and in a particular location.
The main types of predators that eat penguins are marine animals, such as leopard seals, whales and sharks. Many land animals are also a threat to penguins in Antarctica and include birds like petrels, skuas and gulls.
Baby penguins are referred to as chicks. A group of penguin chicks is known as a crèche, which is the French word for crib.
A penguin usually lay two eggs per breeding cycle; however they lay them several days apart. These eggs usually hatch about a day and a half apart from each other.
Penguins primarily communicate vocally, but they also communicate through body language and posturing. Penguins all look virtually identical, which makes individual recognition very difficult. To overcome this, penguins have evolved different sounding voices and the ability to recognize the individual voices of their mates or chicks. This allows the birds to recognize and find their important conspecifics amid the masses, which all look the same.
King penguins eat squids and fish. A carnivorous animal, king penguins especially like consuming the lantern fish. However, they also dine on other species of small fish, krill and small crustaceans.
Penguins sleep on both land and as they float at sea. It is not unusual for penguins to sleep standing up, although they also sleep laying down.
Carrier pigeons are actually domesticated rock pigeons and not extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorized rock pigeons in the "least concern" category. Rock pigeons are no longer used in any official capacity.
Emperor penguins, the largest species of penguins, weigh between 60 and 90 pounds. The smallest species of penguins, Little Blue penguins, weigh between 2 and 5 pounds. There are 17 different species of penguins in the world.
All known species of penguins live naturally in the southern hemisphere of the world. They actually occupy habitats which are located on each of the five continents within the southern hemisphere.
There are not exclusive names for the female penguin, but they have been called hens. Most of the time they are simply referred to as the female penguin.
Penguins do not live at the North Pole and never have. They populate only the waters and coastal areas of the Southern Hemisphere, particularly Antarctica.
The name for a group of penguins varies based on whether the penguins being described are on land or at sea. "Rookery," "waddle" or "colony" are all three terms that are used in reference to a group of penguins on land, while a group of penguins floating at sea is referred to as a "raft."
According to Cool Antarctica, penguins survive in Antarctica thanks to their thick layer of subcutaneous fat and their small surface-volume ratio. These are essential to maintaining the penguins' core temperature while the animals are submerged in freezing water. Penguins also have feathers, and air trapped between them helps the birds stay warm while on land.
Sir Nils Olav, a king penguin, was knighted in 2008 and is the official mascot and honorary Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard. He lives in Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo, and members of the Guard usually visit the penguin when they have military duties in Scotland.
Although all penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, not every species of penguin lives in Antarctica. Several species exist in sub-zero climates, while others live in locations with temperatures regularly above 100 F. Generally, penguins become larger the farther south they live, according to PBS television show "Nature."