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      Emperor Penguins have many adaptations for movement and the conservation of heat in the brisk cold.  Movement through the water is important, since their sources of food thrive there. Penguins evolved from flying birds and eventually lost the ability to fly.  This is due to the fact that Antarctica is an isolated region, where flight is unnecessary for movement.  Their wings are adapted for life in the water.  Compared to other birds' wings, they are narrower, stiffer, and flatter. This helps them to swim efficiently in the sea when they look for food.  Penguins also have streamlined bodies used for efficient swimming. When they need to shoot through the water quickly, they tuck their head into their neck.  Their legs, feet, and tail help them to steer towards their prey.


      Penguins also need a way to move around on land. There are three basic movements for this purpose:  Waddling, hopping, and tobogganing.  Their feet are webbed and clawed for grasping ice and rock.  Since Emperor Penguins have short legs, they waddle, which is moving side to side between steps. Hopping is similar to a how a kangaroo hops, and they use this instead of walking.  While on the journey to the breeding grounds or to find food, penguins often become exhausted, and must use tobogganing. This occurs when they lie on their bellies and push themselves across land using their wings.  This method saves a lot of energy, and helps them regain their strength to continue on their long excursion.

Penguins waddling on the ice



      There are two adaptations used for conserving and regulating heat in the penguin's body.  Feathers help keep the penguin warm since their feathers are covered in oil, making them waterproof.  Also, they tuck their flippers close to their body and shiver to create heat.  Another adaptation they have includes a fat layer that improves the penguin's insulation in the cold water. The dark layer on their back and head absorbs heat.  Also, male penguins huddle close together to conserve heat while incubating.



Created By: Kathryn Magnuson
Last updated on:  April 27, 2007