Have you ever seen a flying Penguin?
The way they flap their “wings” and run around is adorable. And yet, in spite of all the flapping around, they never seem to get off the ground and fly. Do you ever wonder why that’s the case? Why can’t these adorable birds fly? A lot of research has gone into answering this question.
And here’s what the research says,
The penguin is a bird species that is highly specialized for its native environment, which includes the coasts of Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, and the Galapagos Islands. There, being able to swim to catch fish is more useful than flying.
Firstly, do Penguins have Wings?
Yes and no. Penguins have wing-like flippers. These tapered, flattened flippers are covered with short, scale-like feathers. Typical wings are too flexible, and hence, ill-suited for swimming. Water being denser than air, penguin wings are shorter and stouter than the wings of flying birds.
Why do Penguins have Wings if they can’t Fly?
As mentioned before, penguin wings are actually flippers that are perfectly adapted for swimming. They are narrow and hard and help propel and steer penguins through the water. So it’s these “wings” that make penguins such expert swimmers.
Why can’t Penguins fly?
A Study of the Evolution of Penguins reveals more,
As penguins evolved, their wings adapted to becoming more efficient while swimming and diving (to catch their food). This meant that flying now required more and more energy. At some point, this trade-off meant that flying consumed too much energy. Hence, instead of sustaining flight, becoming flightless was by far a better option for penguins. This also means that penguins today have heavier bones, more suited to grounded birds.
Thus, the penguins that can dive as deep as 1,850 feet in search of fish, squid and tiny crustaceans called krill are awkward on land – waddling across the ice or sliding on their bellies.
Scientists have concluded that a wing that is good for flying cannot also be good for diving and swimming in other words, a bird that is a good swimmer cannot excel at flying.
Here’s a fun video about 11 amazing Facts about Penguins.