Adaptations of penguins; anatomical, behavioural and physiological

A list of all penguin adaptations and ticked whether they are anatomical, behavioural or physiological. Part of the OCR Gateway science unit work, for animal adaptations. Hope it helps you, as all information is in one place :)

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  • Created by: Lucy :)
  • Created on: 12-03-13 17:36
Preview of Adaptations of penguins; anatomical, behavioural and physiological

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Adaptation Anatomic Behavioural Physiologic
al al
Compact shape, low surface area to volume ratio to reduce heat
Very dense specialized feathers for insulation on land, fat layer
under the skin for insulation in the sea
Short wings reduced to flippers for swimming underwater
Backward pointing barbs on tongue to stop slippery prey
Black above and white underneath makes it harder to see in the
sea, and helps warming / cooling on land, back or front to the sun
according to whether they are hot or cold
Migrate north at the end of the brief summer
Arrive in the south early in the summer season, to take best
advantage of the seasonal abundance of food
Tobogganing sliding on their front while pushing with legs,
saves a lot of energy in long journeys
Build a crude nest of stones to lift the eggs above ground level to
prevent chilling from melting snow in summer
Gather at the ice edge in large groups before jumping in the sea
in case of predators, increases individual survival chances
Muscle has large amounts of myoglobin to hold extra oxygen
that is used up during a dive
A counter-current system in the legs means that the feet are
kept just above freezing and operated by muscles in the legs via
tendons, this reduces heat loss
During a deep dive, the heart rate slows from 80-100 down to
20 beats per minute
Able to cope with a high saline diet due to salt glands and
kidneys that produce concentrated urine (like many seabirds,
penguins can drink sea water and gain water)


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