In case you haven’t noticed, penguins have become a cultural phenomenon in recent years. From “March of the Penguins” with Morgan Freeman’s narration, to Happy Feet, Surfs Up, and their respective sequels, penguins are as captivating as ever. (I myself adopted a penguin for a year from the Philadelphia Zoo) And let’s face it, being a human can be overrated and sometimes it’s fun to just imagine what life would be like as another specie. Here are 10 facts about penguins from Tui De Roy’s, Mark Jones’s, and Julie Cornthwaite’s new book Penguins: The Ultimate Guide that will make you wish you were one of them.
1. Penguins are exceptionally fast swimmers, clocking in at 22mph. Michael Phelps, in comparison, swims at just under 4.5 mph.
2. Have you ever opened your eyes underwater and felt the sting of the salt or chlorine? Penguins haven’t! Clear nicitating membranes serve as see-through underwater goggles.
3. Trust issues? Some species of penguins remain monogamous to their mates for more than one season. *Queue “aww”*
4. Smaller penguin species like the Rockhoppers leave their half-grown chicks huddling together for safety while the grown-ups “grab some grub.” These are called “crèches” and the chicks are supervised by non-breeding penguin neighbors aka baby, or should we say “penguin,” sitters you can trust.
5. Tired of hearing terrible pick-up lines or getting “poked” on Facebook? Penguins carry out exuberant courtship displays like sky-pointing and “ecstatic greetings.”
6. They say if you’re ever stranded at sea, don’t drink the water, it’ll only dehydrate you faster, but penguins can process seawater by means of large salt-extracting glands in their foreheads.
7. Never play hide and seek with penguins. Their binocular vision is as good as that of owls.
8. Despite their awkward wobble, Penguins are impressively built. Dual purpose feet allow them to easily walk across wet and slippery surfaces while their surprisingly long (but mostly hidden) legs let them commute several kilometers to their nests.
9. Wouldn’t you like to live in a world with gender-equality? Penguins do! Males and females rarely show gender differences. In fact, it is the male Emperor Penguin who incubates the egg while the female forages for food.
10. When it comes to fashion, penguins never have to sacrifice form for function (or the other way around). Their sleek—and chic!—coats consists of around 15 feathers per square centimeter, the densest plumage of any bird.