Emperor Penguins

Which of the following animals can be found in Antarctica?

Considering the arctic fox, polar bear, emperor penguin, and reindeer, the answer is: emperor penguin.      

While penguins can be found throughout the southern hemisphere, the emperor penguin is native to Antarctica, near the South Pole. They're the tallest and heaviest of all penguins, and are excellent swimmers. While hunting for food, emperor penguins can remain underwater up to 20 minutes.

Photo credit: Snowmanradio

The aptly named emperor penguin is the only species of penguin that can navigate the open ice of Antarctica during the winter. Even in conditions dropping as low as -76 degrees Fahrenheit, these impressive penguins spend their entire lives on the ice or in the waters surrounding Antarctica. Thankfully, evolution has endowed them with four layers of feathers to help keep them warm year round, with a waterproof coat on the outermost layer. They also are able to maintain high amounts of fat to insulate their bodies from the harsh conditions.

But that's not all. Almost every feature of the emperor penguin's build is adapted to help these fearless feathery creatures survive the Antarctic winter. Their small bills and flippers help conserve heat, while their nasal passages are especially small to minimize the heat usually emitted through exhalation. And, thanks to closely situated arteries and veins, emperor penguins are able to recycle their own body heat, cooling blood to their extremities and warming it when it returns to the heart.

Every winter (which begins in March at the South Pole), emperor penguins travel up to 50 miles to find a suitable breeding ground and a mate. Males usually arrive first to set up shop (AKA get reading for their courting ritual), before then mating for the season. Most emperor penguins mate once a season with a new mate, but some decide to couple up again the following winter (all in the chemistry, we suppose).

Since there are no nesting supplies available on a frozen tundra, emperor penguins incubate the eggs using their own body heat. The male penguins stay with the eggs throughout the winter, huddling in packs for warmth, while the females make the long trek back to the sea to feed. Come spring, the chicks hatch and consume the mother's regurgitations, allowing the males to go off and feed themselves. The next winter, the cycle begins again.

Learn more about emperor penguins here.

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