March of the Fossil Penguins

Fossil penguin discoveries and research

One Tough Penguin

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Here is a picture from Cape Town’s local penguin colony.  South Africa is today home to one species of penguin, Spheniscus demersus (often called the Jackass Penguin for its loud braying call). In the past, several other species lived in South Africa, perhaps as many as four at a time.  While these fossils tell a great story, I wanted to post the image of this tough living penguin today.  This fellow in the picture has only one leg.  Yet, it is marching only slightly slower than normal penguin land speed.  It made it up from the water, across the beach and over to a burrow just fine.  Most likely, this penguin lost its leg to a shark attack.  While this type of encounter may sound like it would be deadly, one legged penguins are not all that rare.  Since the penguin can trod along the short distance to its burrow, one leg will do.  Based on its healed injury, good plumage and level of fat stores, it seems the one-legged trooper has been making due for at least a few weeks.  A one-winged penguin would be completely out of luck though, and would not be able to swim to collect food.   So, in the sense that a shark attack can ever be considered “lucky” this penguin was fortunate.


Written by Dan Ksepka

December 14, 2010 at 10:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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