Penguins



Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sealife caught while swimming underwater. They spend about half of their lives on land and half in the oceans. Although all penguin species are native to the Southern Hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin live so far south. Several species are found in the temperate zone, and one species, the Galápagos Penguin, lives near the equator. Read more ...




Symbolism


Order in times of chaos: As a totem animal, the penguin is said to be a reminder of order in times of chaos, of teamwork while hunting under water, of moving in a steady line, inexorably forward on foot through fair weather and foul. The penguin also speaks to the advantages of being able to slip easily from one realm to another.

Adaptation: Penguin's ability to jump from the water and land on its feet symbolizes the ability to 'change planes' (or realities) easily. By getting a penguin tattoo, you are making a statement about your ability to change or adapt to different environments. Some would say this represents a connection between the physical and the spiritual.

Good manners and charm: it is commonly known that penguins appear similar to men wearing black jacket or overcoat and hence, they are believed to represent good manners and charm.

Penguin in dreams: To see a penguin in your dream signifies that your problems are not as serious as you may think. It serves as a reminder for you to keep your cool and remain level-headed.




In the News ...





Giant Prehistoric Penguins Evolved During the Dinosaur Age   Live Science - February 28, 2017
Penguins that walked the Earth 61 million years ago might have been giants, growing to nearly 5 feet tall, according to the oldest penguin fossils unearthed to date. Perhaps even more impressive, these oversize waddlers might have evolved alongside dinosaurs, the researchers report in a new study. Penguins are flightless, but they can swim at speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h). The biggest living penguin, the emperor penguin, can grow to be about 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) tall, but previously unearthed fossils revealed that extinct penguins could get as large as 5.4 feet (1.65 m) tall. Although penguins are flightless, their anatomy suggests that their ancestors could fly, just as other modern birds can. For example, some wing bones in living penguins are fused together in the same way as those in flying birds, said study co-author Paul Scofield, a paleontologist at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition,modern penguins have air sacs in their bodies just as flying birds do, although in flying birds, these air sacs help reduce weight for flight, whereas in penguins, they help the birds control their buoyancy




Extinct Penguin Was Tall Enough to Play in the NBA   Discovery - August 5, 2014
A penguin that lived more than 35 million years ago was the largest ever, and would stand twice as tall as today's largest penguin, according to new fossil evidence. Palaeeudyptes klekowskii would have stood about 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighed around 250 pounds, according to analysis of new bones found on Seymour Island in Antarctica by an Argentinian museum researcher.




Huddle Up: the Surprising Physics of Penguin Movements   Live Science - December 17, 2013
Maintaining a massive huddle of thousands of penguins may sound fairly simple, but sticking together in a pack so large turns out to be quite complicated: When one penguin moves a single step, the rest must also move to accommodate the open space and stay warm. In this particular species of penguin, males play the unusual gender role of incubating eggs, so it is especially crucial that they maintain warmth during cold winters.




How Penguins Got Their Cold-Weather Coats   Live Science - December 21, 2010
Those tuxedo-wearing birds that inhabit Earth's coldest continent may have evolved a means of retaining heat when they were still living in warm climates, scientists now suggest. A key adaptation that helped modern penguins to invade the cold waters of Antarctica within the last 16 million years is the so-called humeral arterial plexus, a network of blood vessels that limits heat loss through the wings.




Ancient giant penguin unearthed in Peru   BBC - October 1, 2010

The fossil of a giant penguin that lived 36 million years ago has been discovered in Peru. Scientists say the find shows that key features of the plumage were present quite early on in penguin evolution. The animal's feathers were brown and grey, distinct from the black "tuxedo" look of modern penguins.




Emperor penguins face extinction   BBC - January 27, 2009
Emperor penguins, whose long treks across Antarctic ice to mate have been immortalised by Hollywood, are heading towards extinction, scientists say. Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100. That level of decline could wreak havoc on the delicate Antarctic food chain. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Emperor penguins, the largest species, are unique in that they are the only penguins that breed during the harsh Antarctic winters.




Secret to Penguin Locomotion Revealed   Live Science - November 13, 2008
Penguins are wobbly on land, but their extreme underwater agility involves the perfection of a twisting wing motion that is just now coming to be understood. A new study found that by twisting their wings while pumping them under water to swim, the birds are able to vary the thrust of their flapping and increase control over their movements. The motion is so useful researchers are testing it out on prototypes for new underwater spy vehicles.




Historic penguin sketches found - chalk drawings BBC - December 21, 2007

Penguin sketches made by Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton have been found in a basement at Cambridge University. Penguin sketches made by Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton have been found in a basement at Cambridge University. The legendary explorers drew the pictures on blackboards, probably for public lectures, in 1904 and 1909.The legendary explorers drew the pictures on blackboards, probably for public lectures, in 1904 and 1909.




Penguins Safely Lower Oxygen to "Blackout" Levels National Geographic - December 7, 2007

Emperor penguins may have a supercharged form of a blood protein that allows them to dive underwater for more than 20 minutes on a single breath, a new study suggests. The research showed that penguins in Antarctica return from long fishing excursions under the sea ice with the lowest blood oxygen levels ever recorded in wild animals.




Giant Prehistoric Penguins Found National Geographic - June 25, 2007

Penguins about the size of humans roamed South America some 35 million years ago, and they didn't need ice to survive. The study, which appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, unveils two new species of giant penguins from fossils unearthed in Peru's Atacama Desert. The discovery pushes the date of penguin migration to equatorial regions back more than 30 million years, to one of the warmest periods of the last 65 million years. The find also casts doubt on climate as the main factor in penguins' choice of habitat through history.




Confused penguin strays 5,000km BBC - May 11, 2007

A Magellanic penguin whose natural habitat is the cool climes of southern Chile has strayed thousands of miles from his home, arriving in Peru. The penguin, native to the Strait of Magellan region of Chile, swam all the way to Peru's Paracas national reserve. Scientists say the bird appeared to have made the 5,000km (3,000-mile) journey alone. They say the penguin must have "got off course" to end up just 14 degrees south of the equator.




Particle decay may point to New Physics    PhysOrg - October 11, 2006

A tiny flaw has caught the attention of physicists: the Standard Model (SM) predicts that the B meson mixing phase should be measured at nearly the same result using two different classes of decay modes. However, observations of the two different decay modes recently gave very different values, resulting in an unexpectedly large discrepancy in the B mixing phase.





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