What is the difference between a penguin and a penguin?

The resemblance between the penguin and the penguin is difficult to perceive: black back, white belly, Patenaude gait … Besides in English penguins are called “penguins”, which does not really help things, we grant you … Nevertheless, the penguin is very different from the penguin since the latter belong to two completely different families. In addition, penguins and penguins evolve in opposite geographical areas.

The word “penguin” refers in French to the birds of the family Spheniscidae. That is all species that inhabit the southern hemisphere and are unable to fly. As for the word “penguin”, it refers to birds of the family of alcids. Alcids include species such as guillemots, puffins, and merges. However, there are only one species of this family that still bears the name of penguin: the torda penguin (Alca torda). The species that still exist today can all be stolen. But then what is the difference between a penguin and a penguin? We give you the answer.

Penguins and penguins: two different families

Penguins belong to the family Alcidae and this family includes many species. Seabirds including guillemots (the little penguin), the merge, or the puffin. There are 10 genera and 23 species existing among the family of birds Alcidae. Until the middle of the 19th century, penguins were divided into two species, the little penguins (which are known today) and the great penguins. The great penguins officially died out in 1844. The last penguin was killed by a hunter while it was once abundant on Earth. In particular, great penguins could be found north of the Atlantic Ocean, on the American coast, in Greenland, in Iceland, and even in European waters.

As for the penguin, this is the name that is given to all members of the family Sphenisciforms. An order of seabirds that divides into 6 genera and cannot fly. The best known is the emperor penguin. The latter became famous thanks to various documentaries such as La Marche de l’Empereur by Luc Jacquet released in 2005. The emperor penguin is larger and heavier than all penguins.

One flies and swims, the other walks and swims

We have all asked ourselves this question before: why don’t penguins fly like penguins? During their evolution, penguins lost that ability they had to fly. Penguins do not know (or no longer) how to fly, their wings are on the other hand, very well suited for swimming and scuba diving. The gentoo penguin can swim very fast and reach a speed of 35 km/h underwater! As for the emperor penguin, it is able to dive to a depth of more than 520 m in order to look for food to feed itself and its family. As you will have understood, penguins can not fly. And besides, to be able to migrate, penguins have to travel colossal distances before accessing them. The documentary film The March of the Emperor reflects very well this journey that penguins make to the walk. Penguins walk hundreds of kilometers away and have to overcome many obstacles. Some species, such as Pygoscelis, a genus of penguins, migrate at sea.A photograph of a penguin. Pexels© Provided by Gentside A photograph of a penguin. Pexels

Studies carried out by scientists want to prove that the ancestors of penguins had this ability to be able to rise in the air. A team from the University of Manitoba in Canada wanted to answer this theory through a study. The latter published their results in the Pans and there is no doubt: they suggest that the penguins did not have adequate wings to be able to both fly and walk. Finally, penguins have specialized in swimming and therefore the aquatic world since access to food is easier.

A different location

Besides the fact that penguins and penguins are part of two different families, there is also localization. Little penguins are located in the Northern Hemisphere, throughout the Canadian Atlantic, in the English Channel, and in southern Labrador. The northernmost colony in Canada is located in Digges Strait, at the eastern entrance to Hudson Bay. Overall, its global population is estimated at 700,000 pairs. However, the number is constantly decreasing. Indeed, the penguin has several predators, including raptors and gulls, there are also red foxes and crows which most often attack baby penguins as well as eggs.

Regarding emperor penguins, they live in Antarctica. This species must live and reproduce in cold environments: at -40 °C in the air and -1.8 °C in the sea. Emperor penguins have the peculiarity of being able to maintain a constant body temperature at about 39 °C. It is thanks to their plumage and their layer of fat about 3 cm thick that the emperor penguin retains this heat. Regarding its terrestrial predators, there is the McCormick’s Labbe which feeds on dead chicks. For predators that live in the water, there are the leopard seal and the Orca.

Penguins and penguins: the sad common point

Penguins and penguins, unfortunately, have one sad thing in common since their survival is in jeopardy. The causes? Human activity. Marine pollution (oil spill, degassing, presence of waste, release into the environment by human activities of excessive quantities of toxic physical or chemical products, etc.) All this puts the penguins in terrible danger. Intensive fishing is also a factor that prevents these seabirds from feeding.

For penguins, it’s a story of global warming. Indeed, the melting of the pack ice results in a decrease in the presence of penguins. This is the case for the population of emperor penguins of Adélie Land which, in the next 30 years, is expected to decline by more than 40%. By 2100, the emperor penguins of Adélie Land are expected to decline by more than 80%. According to a study published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences): “Scientists also estimate the average probability of seeing this colony disappear permanently at 36% by 2100.”

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