Penguins are birds adapted for life in the sea. They have lost the power of flight and become masters of swimming with streamlined bodies shaped like torpedoes to cut easily through the water. Unlike other birds penguins cannot bend their wings in the middle. Instead these limbs have become stiff paddles with the bones inside them fused together for strength.
Penguins are extremely powerful swimmers and can move through the water with surprising speed. In the water penguins are a vision of power and grace. On land however they can appear almost comical in their attempts to get about. Their feet are set so far back on their bodies that they are forced to stand upright in order to move giving them a vaguely human appearance. The alternative in snow at least is to toboggan on their bellies using their clawed feet to push them along.
There have been penguins on Earth for an extremely long time. The oldest known penguin fossils date back 55 millions and many scientists believe that they evolved even earlier than this. Bu contrast our own species has only existed for around 120,0000 years. The earliest known human ancestors first came down from the trees and stood upright just over four million years ago.
In the water penguins use their feet as rudders. They effortlessly propel themselves through the water with their stiff paddle like wings. Penguins are closely related to albatrosses. In a few places the two share nesting sites. Penguins have streamlined teardrop shaped bodies and sleek feathers as these Gentoos clearly show.
Penguins are among the most sociable of all birds breeding traveling and feeding in large flocks. When moving across ice penguins often walk but they also toboggan sliding on their bellies while pushing themselves along with their feet. This is a common sight all around Antarctica.
PICS. COURTESY GOOGLE