How Smart Are Penguins?

To know the intelligence levels of penguins, we need to look at what it can do vis-à-vis other more intelligent beings like humans and chimpanzees. But, the underlying and undisputable thing is that the flightless birds are smart. Penguins understand and respond quickly to a range of intricate gestures and language. Also, their intellectual strength has made them adapt impressively to their climate, such that they haven’t evolved in any way in the last 50 million years.

Some research says that penguins can watch TV comfortably. While this may be of little use in their arctic and subarctic habitats, it shows that the birds can adapt well to new situations. 

Penguin Intelligence – Expanding The Discussion

Although there is no way to measure the intelligence of penguins, observing their mannerisms and habit will get you agreeing that the birds are uniquely smart. Also, you learn of their innate adaptability – which has long been seen as a survival phenomenon.

Penguins have been noted to take on coordinated living to ensure they all survive between the chills of Antarctica. Collaboration is more impressive than the mimicry of human vocabulary that parrots do. Let’s step closer into the discussion and look at behaviors that make the birds stand out:

1. Seasonally, Penguins Are Monogamous Birds

For penguins, every mating season that comes means going back to the same male or female. When breeding comes with chicks, the partners collaborate in raising the babies. When the chicks come of age, the partners go separate ways, well, until the next mating season. They make sure of this by returning to the same location, and the males make sounds recognizable by their females.

So, what if the penguin’s partner fails to return? The other one will look for a new mate. But that doesn’t happen before the lovely wait.

2. Penguins Show Social Traits

As mentioned earlier, the survival of penguins depends on their social conduct. Together, penguins will huddle up during the wintertime. This helps them create a bubble of warmth, and with that, the birds beat the cold weather and its harsh winds.

The species of penguins known as the Gentoo is known for forming rafts – yes – like humans. Hundreds of penguins climb on the raft, swim through, and fish out their meal. Forming the raft as a team is another evidence of the bird’s collaborative nature. Also, it shows that communication between the birds is deep and intimate; penguins can set goals and pursue them.

3. Penguins Maintain Their Breeding Areas Every Year

Once a couple of penguins (hoping you get me) decides on the place to breed, it will become a forever-and-ever area. These breeding spaces are called rookeries, and the males always drive their females back there.

If the rookery is not fit to be habited because of natural factors or predators, the couple chooses another place. This consistency is a sign of intelligence. 

4. To Attract Females, Male Penguins Build Nests

This act of chivalry is similar to when men plan to take ladies out on dates. The male penguins will pick pebbles, stones, leaves, and branches to create an appealing nest that will impress the eye of the female.

The females are quite choosy – they survey the nests made by the males and find one that is comfortable for them. Once they do, the female will blow and screech loudly to show the other penguins that she is off the market. The ritualistic kind of living communicates that penguins have a constructed culture. 

5. Penguins Steal Rocks From Each Other 

Penguins love rocks, and they are drawn to them so much, and whatever the reason, no one knows! If a male has rocks that the female likes, the female penguin will be down to having intercourse with him for the stones.

But the idea of intercourse is merely a lure. Soon, the female steals the rocks even before anything sugary happens. Research has it that a female can steal around 60 stones, or even more.

6. Penguins Do Not Fear Humans

Unlike other wild birds and animals, penguins will curiously approach humans without fear. In their breeding grounds, penguins have become used to humans.

Penguins do not find any problem having humans in their vicinity. The trouble comes when you try to capture them – their stress levels go up.

So, what bit of penguin intelligence can we learn from this audacious, fearless characteristic? Penguins infer that humans are not a threat to them. But, it doesn’t mean that penguins should be approached all the time. Too many tourists may affect the physical and mental well-being of the penguins.

Without A Doubt

Penguins display smart behaviors and social traits, which affirm that they are not your average animals. Their apparent collaboration and impressive communication skills, especially in food searches, prove their intelligence. They may be adapted to survive the extreme winter conditions, but their partnership adds to it.

A further look reveals the penguins’ deep sense of recognition and ownership of their belongings. Among thousands of males, a female will seek and pick out his only by paying attention to his mate’s special squawk.

Penguin Fascination – The Best You-Never-Knew Things!

Every January 20th, the United States observes penguin Awareness. We all know penguins of being an adorable version of black and white birds, but you’re about to find out how interesting they are. 

Some penguins, particularly those whose height is one-foot, are the smallest species in the world. Others, like the Gentoo penguins, are as fast as 22 miles per hour underwater.

Now is the time to get into the fascinating details!

1. They Are 17 Penguin Species, At Least.

The estimate that scientists make is in the 17 – 19 bracket, meaning that one penguin may not be the same as others. These species are worldwide, from Australia to Africa, and the arctic and subarctic regions.

Around the Antarctic Peninsula and Antarctic region, you will find crested penguins. Examples of these penguins are the macaroni and rockhopper species and are characterized by the orange-yellow extending from their heads.

In South America, where the climate is temperate, you will find the Humboldt and the Magellanic species – feathery penguins.  

2. Of The 17 Species, Only One Lives In The Regions Above The Equator (Southern Hemisphere).

The Galapagos Islands straddles the Equator. On that archipelago and more than any other in-world species, some penguins live further north.  

3. The Littlest Type Of Penguins Has A Height Of Around 10 Inches.

Blue or ‘little’ penguins don’t stand too tall – between 10 and 12 inches. These penguins are native to Tasmania, New Zealand, and Australia.

4. The Largest Type Of Penguins Stands Over Four Feet.

If you’ve heard about emperor penguins, you know that they are the largest species of these flightless birds. Being native to Antarctica, they have a regal stature – which is their single mark of peculiarity. They can reach 50 inches in height, which is the height of prepubescent children and even some adults.  

5. In History, One Mega Penguin Stood At Least 6 Feet Tall, Weighing At Least 20 Pounds. 

Scientists in 2014 unearthed what is believed as remains of a 37-million-year-old colossus penguin. The scientists uncovered the remains on Seymour Island (Antarctic Peninsula). Their findings suggest that the bigger-than-big bird has massive weight and a giant height.

6. The Black-White Penguin Coloring Is A Tool Of Camouflage. 

Countershading (the black-white coloring) is a natural tool of protection. The shading prevents sharks and leopard seals from predating on the birds. If you watch a swimming penguin from below, its underside is white – which is hard to separate from the brightness that shines on the ocean’s surface.

7. Some Penguins Engage In Same-Sex Coupling 

Together with flamingos and bears, penguins are part of the 1500 species of animals that engage in same-sex coupling.

In Kent, England, at Wingham Wildlife Park, two male penguins of the Humboldt species (Jumbs and Kermit) coupled to raise a chick who was ‘abandoned.’ The biological father of the baby has refused to take the egg and incubate it. Hence, the intelligent and loving couple took it in.

In New York’s Central Park Zoo, two male chinstrap penguins (Roy and Silo) took it upon themselves to incubate and reared a chick that had been hatched by a female.

8. While ‘Empress’ Penguins Go Hunting, The Emperor One Incubate Eggs

Incubation of eggs is not the responsibility of the female – it is shared work. Usually, the ‘empress’ penguins take a hunting trip for at least two months. During that time, the males warm and protect the freshly-laid eggs. The emperor penguins shelter them in a brood pouch, a sac-like item made of feathered skin.

Unbelievably, the male emperor stays hungry the entire time. They wait for the return of the female, and then they eat after the females regurgitate the foods for the chicks. With the females back, they are free to leave the chicks – they go to the sea and get themselves something to eat.   

9. Unlike Other Birds, Penguins Are Carnivorous.

This one is dependent on the species type, time of year, and geographical region. What you should note, however, is that smaller penguins from the south feed typically on squid, cuttlefish, and krill. For the penguins that live in Africa, fish sits at the heart of their diet.

10. Penguins Are Fast And Have The Potential Of Pulling Off A Usain Bolt!

As mention in the first words, the fastest penguins, which are of the Gentoo species, can clock 22 miles an hour. This is just 4 miles short of the fastest human – Usain Bolt – who has the 28-miles-an-hour mark on his name.

11. Penguins Are Underwater Champions! 

Six thousand feet underwater – this is the mark made by a penguin and is considered the deepest dive among the flightless birds’ species. Averagely, penguins can dive down up to 60 feet.

The diver bosses – emperor penguins (both male and female) – can take down 1700 feet underwater. One time, an emperor penguin dove 6081 feet under – astonishing, right?

12. The Oldest Penguin In The World Is 40 Years Old – Impressively!   

In England, at the Birdland wildlife park (Gloucestershire), you will meet Missy, the oldest penguin globally. Missy is a king penguin, who is about to outlive the maxim lifespan of a penguin species in captivity – 41 years. If he had been out in the wild, 26 years would be the mark to watch. There would be no Missy by now!

13. Emperors Huddle To Keep Themselves Warm!   

Warmth is precious in the frigidly cold Arctic region, and especially during winter. As intelligent animals, they do a coordinated but subtle rotation while huddling.

One adaptation of the emperor penguin species is having arteries running in their legs. Any changes that happen on the feet’s temperature means that the arteries help to adjust blood flow.  

14. By Keeping Cold, Penguins Stay Warm – Huh?

Scottish and French scientists collaborated in a 2013 study to investigate the warming-up dynamics of the emperor penguins. These species have the highest density of feathers. These feathers keep their outward plumage at low temperatures, more than the air around them. This process helps the penguins to gain back any heat through convection, which is a heat-transfer mechanism that involves fluids.     

15. Penguins May Be Flightless, But They Have The Potential Of Being Airborne. 

I’m talking about leaping – and penguins can jump nine feet high. Their bounce helps them to avoid would-be predators, such as orcas and leopard seals. To jump high, they depend on air bubbles, which get wrapped around their chubby bodies for above-water propelling.

16. Warmer-Climate Penguins Are Clever In Cooling Down

Genetic adaptations and panting are some of the ways that African and Galapagos penguins stay cool. Interestingly, molting happens twice annually for these birds in warm regions.

Paying close attention to the African penguin will make you notice a pink patch colored around their eyes. The region has a gland that performs thermoregulatory functions. Hotter temperatures trigger more blood to flow to the glands.

17. Of The Many, Five Of The Birds’ Species Have The ‘Endangered’ Designation

The International Union of the Conservation Union classifies the following penguin species as endangered:

a) Northern Rockhopper penguin

b) The Erect-crested penguin

c) The Yellow-eyed penguin

d) The African penguin

e) The Galapagos penguin

Who’s Smarter? Animals With Top-Notch Intelligence (Penguins Included)

It is now time to compare animals in terms of intelligence. The table will present ten rated animals and what experts and non-experts say about their smartness. 

No.Animal NameAnimal TypeComment
10.RatRodentAlthough much-maligned, rats are highly intelligent. They have successfully colonized every continent. 
9.OctopusCephalopodThis invertebrate can unscrew a lid that’s tightly covering a jar.   
Avian (birds)These birds have a remarkable long-term memory; they can remember many images long after years have passed.  
7.SquirrelRodentsThese gardener’s nemeses can display useful tricks and survival strategies. 
6.PigsSus (Genus)These are infamous animals – gluttonous and unhygienic. But, their adaptability methods put them out as intelligent animals.   
5.CrownAvian (birds)These birds have been observed waiting for traffic light changes before doing their jay-walking thing   
4.ElephantMammalsIf anything, elephants have excellent long-term memories. As captives, they learn and follow human commands with ease. Also, they show care and empathy – a sign of emotional intelligence.
3.OrangutanApesMany sources say that these apes are second to humans in terms of smartness. Using tools in the wild is one of the overt behaviors that communicate their innate intelligence. 
2.DolphinMammalsThese ‘fishes’ are star attractions. One thing that you may know is that dolphins are social animals. Many times, you will find a dolphin racing, surfing, spinning, leaping, and whistling – all in the spirit of self-expression.     
1.ChimpanzeeApesOf course – it had to be a primate at number one! They can solve advanced problems, make and make use of tools, and hunt smartly. Also, the apes can learn sign language, and they have impressive memories.

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