he first mention of this cute animal dates back to 1520, when Antonio Pigafetta, the man that chronicled the voyages of Ferdinand Magellan, described it as a wild goose!
It is believed that the penguin was a flying land bird in a faraway past. It was supposedly related to the petrel and began getting closer and closer to the sea in order to look for food. Therefore, it stopped flying and adapted to an aquatic life, evolving into its wedge-shaped body (spheniscus), webbed feet and wings that serve as fins, just like a fish.
There are 17 species of penguins in the world, all of which live in the southern hemisphere. The northernmost species is the Galapagos penguin and the southernmost one is the Emperor penguin, which lives in the Antarctic continent.
The Magellanic penguin can be found from Tierra del Fuego up to Brazil (along the Atlantic Ocean) and Peru (in the Pacific). These faraway destinations are reached after a migration to warmer waters that lasts over 6000 kilometers (3,728 mi).
Our penguin measures between 50 cm (20 in) to 70 cm (28 in) tall; it weighs up to 5 kilos (11 lb) and lives until the age of twenty. The male penguin is slightly larger than the female and its beak is also a little longer. They lead a pelagic life and spend most of it in the water, even when they’re sleeping. They are fantastic swimmers and can reach speeds of up to 8 km/h (5 mph) underwater. Their plumage is similar to a duvet; it is very dense and is coated with waterproofing oil secreted from the uropigial gland. A thick layer of fat that helps insulate their body from the cold.
They have a peculiar call which sounds like a donkey’s bray. They sneeze out a salty fluid produced by a gland that concentrates excess salt in their body.
y a gland that concentrates excess salt in their body. Penguins shed their feathers every year. During this period (January – February), they avoid going into the water to eat. They attain their final colors only during their third year of life, which includes eye-catching rings around their eyes and neck. In addition, they shed their grey feathers for a basically black plumage.
Their diet consists of small fish, such as anchovies, sardines or sea silversides. The penguin’s main enemies are sea lions, fishing nets and ocean pollution. They can dive up to 80 meters (262 ft) deep.