Animal Diversity

Amazing Facts about Animals

Emperor Penguin

May 31, 2012 by bioexpedition · No Comments · Animals, Birds

Emperor Penguin

 

Emperor Penguin Facts

Emperor Penguin - Aptenodytes forsteri

 

Emperor Penguin Description

There are many things about the Emperor Penguin that set it apart form other species. They have a very basic look to them, black in the back with white in the belly area. However, they also have some unusual coloring that is bright yellow and orange on the breast and their ears. If you remember that description you will be able to easily identify this type of penguin anywhere.

Emperor Penguin Anatomy

Once you see the body of an Emperor Penguin, you will see what all the talk is about. They are long and slender, with a height of up to 48 inches. They only weigh about 85 pounds so they don’t appear as round as other species. Being tall also helps them to move around easier, both in the water and when they walk on land. There is plenty of other great things to learn about their anatomy though as well.

Most penguins that live in cold regions have a thick middle due to the layers of blubber that they need to stay warm enough. There are such layers on the Emperor Penguin but not as many. Instead they are able to help regulate their metabolism which is a characteristic that most researchers are very impressed by. They want to find out more about how these animals are able to reduce their metabolism to only allow their necessary body functions to be performed at times.

They also have the ability to survive on much less air than other penguins. In fact, this ability allows them to get air from pockets under the ice instead of having to go the surface all the time. This is a great way for them to save their energy as well.

Emperor Penguin Evolution

We still don’t know all the information about how the Emperor Penguin came to be what we know them as today. They have evolved over the years, but how did they do so and what were they once? What the most common theory is though is that they were separated by icebergs that shifted or broke away from other penguins. They also needed to be able to get food from the water so their wings transformed to those that help them in the water instead of for flying.

Emperor Penguin Behavior

They are wonderful animals to watch, and people get a thrill out of the way that they interact. They are extremely social and love gathering in small groups within the larger colony. Even when they have more room to spread out they don’t because they like to be close to each other. This also offers them more protection from various land predators.

There is plenty of chatter among a colony of Emperor Penguins, and understanding what it all means is still a huge mystery to researchers. They do know the basics of some of it but there are too many different sounds used for communication for them to fully grasp it just yet.

What is very interesting is that these penguins are able to pick up on the sounds from their offspring and mates above all of the others. Even the young quickly learn to hear the sounds of their parents without being confused by all the other penguins around them.

Emperor Penguin Habitat and Distribution

The only place that they live in a natural environment is Antarctica. That is right, the coldest place on Earth is very comfortable to the Emperor Penguins. They are able to survive in these frigid areas due to the ability that they have to control their metabolism. Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to stay there in the cold and to live for the warmer months. Of course, even what is warm in the Antarctic is still too cold for most people and animals out there.

Emperor Penguin Feeding Habits

These penguins consume quite a bit of food when they can. Their goal is to store as much fat as they can for the winter months. During that period of time they won’t be able to get it as much as before, and they are going to need it if they are going to survive. I will explain more about that soon. Some sources of food that they enjoy include krill and other crustaceans, squid, and a variety of fish.

They tend to stick to the surface of the water to consume what they can there. This prevents them from using up additional energy to dive and to come up for air. However, they will dive up to an amazing 1,700 feet in order to find food if they need to. They are extremely fast and they can remain without more air for about 20 minutes.

Emperor Penguin Reproduction

If you want to explore all of the journey of them for reproduction, you should watch the March of the Penguins Documentary. These animals will walk for about 70 miles in the cold and often with little or no food. They do so in order to reach the breeding grounds where they will mate. Those that don’t have a mate will find one and that is who they will remain with for the rest of their life.

The process of getting the offspring here is difficult for them as well. The female will lay an egg but it doesn’t get placed into a nest as other species of penguins do. Instead she will rapidly move it to the male who will protect it with his body. If they aren’t skilled in this the egg may get too much exposure and the offspring will never hatch from it.

After the egg has been given to the male partner, the females will go on a journey to eat. They will be gone for about two months before they return to care for the young. During this time the males are without food and they with huddle together in an effort to stay warm. They will be close to exhaustion, and close to dying without food during this period of time. They will immediately go in search of food when their female partner returns.

Not all of the young though will make it back to their home with the parents. They can die due to the cold, not being strong enough, or predators. It is a very difficult and long journey for the adults and even harder for their young offspring. They will do all they can to encourage them to complete this journey with them though.

Emperor Penguin Predators

Even though they live in a very cold location, the Emperor Penguins do have some predators to be aware of. Birds are a common problem as they will steal the young as will skuas. In the water there are Leopard Seals and Orcas that the penguins are simply no match for at any age.

Humans don’t seem to be a big threat for the penguins due to where they live. However, there are some problems that they create such as global warming that melts the ice. There are also problems with pollution caused by humans. Even so, these penguins have been able to continue to evolve and to thrive, making the most out of the environment around them. Those that can avoid predators generally have a life span of about 20 years.

 

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