Depending on the species of penguin you are looking at, you may think of them as fascinating to look at or
somewhat silly. The overall anatomy of a penguin is very complex as well as interesting. Their bodies are designed
to allow them to survive in their natural habitat. You will find that they vary significantly in height and weight
depending on the species and where they happen to reside.
The body of a penguin is tapered on both ends. This allows them to glide through the water with ease. This is
why the head is very large and the body is long. When you view them, you may think that the heads aren’t
proportional to the body. That may hold true on land but in the water it definitely gives them an advantage. This
is also why the tails of penguins look like a wedge. It helps them to navigate in the water.
Penguins feature flippers at their sides that are shaped like small paddles. You may not realize that they have
flattened bones inside of them. There is a joint that holds the elbow and the wrist together. They use these
flippers to be able to swim quickly without getting tired. You will also notice that the feathers are very short on
these flippers. This helps prevent them from being weighed down in the water. These feathers also keep the penguins
warm. They prevent the water from penetrating the skin.
Take a close look at the feet and the legs of a penguin. Notice that they are set far back from the rest of the
body? This design of their anatomy helps them to stay balanced and to walk upright while on land. You may not have
realized that they feature claws on the bottom of their feet. They seem to be more comfortable in the water than on
land as here they have to take very slow steps. Some species of penguins slide on their bellies due to the icy
waters they attempt to walk across because they can move much faster that way.
With most types of animals out there, you can easily tell the males from the females. They are very different in
size or they have some characteristics that the other doesn’t. Yet when it comes to the world of penguins it is
very hard to tell the males from the females because they do look very similar and can be the same size.
The bill of penguins is another aspect of their anatomy to pay close attention to. The design of it has to do
with their eating habits. For example those that mainly consume krill are short and wide while those that mainly
consume fish are long and narrow. They also feature glands that allow them to remove the salt from the water they
drink. This why they don’t suffer any ill effects from it. At the same time they don’t have to drink water. They
take it in as they are in the water looking for food.
Many people wonder why penguins are black and white. Researchers believe this very important detail of their
anatomy has to do with allowing them to hide from predators while they are in the water. Since their bellies are
white they are able to hide from those that are below them in the water. With the backside being black, they are
protected from predators that are above them.
Even though there are plenty of differences in the development of penguins, the basics are the same. Once you
have explored their anatomy, you will likely have a new appreciation for them.