Kkkrueew! A honking cry fills the air. It sounds like an orchestra of
kazoos. T ousands of king penguins are making this noise. T e penguins are huddled together on a
rocky beach. It’s halfway between Antarctica and South America, so it’s cold here. Despite the chill, a few penguins waddle toward the sea. T ey wade into crashing waves. T en they dive headfirst into the icy water. Unlike most birds, penguins are better
suited for a life in the sea than in the air. T ey have feathers and wings like other birds, but they can’t fly. On land, they look awkward. T ey waddle as they walk, sticking their wings out for balance. In the water, though, they look like they are soaring. Penguins may look and act odd compared
to other birds. In fact, their adaptations allow them to live in some of the harshest environments on Earth. In these places, everything from the weather to the landscape makes it hard to survive. Yet these birds do. To see how, let’s take a closer look at penguins and the adaptations they all share.
Fantastic Feathers Like all birds, a penguin has feathers. T at’s what makes it a bird. A penguin, though, has more feathers per square centimeter than most other birds. Its feathers are diff erent, too. T ey aren’t
light, long, and fluff y. T ey’re short, stiff , and oily. When a penguin hooks its feathers together, they act like a wetsuit. T e feathers trap air close to the penguin’s
skin. T e bird’s body warms up this air. T at can keep a penguin warm, even when temperatures plunge below zero. T e hooked feathers also keep out cold water and wind.
Fun Fact: A penguin slows its heartbeat when it dives. That way, it
can stay under the water longer. 4 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER
These penguins dive deep in the ocean.
This bird’s body lets it survive in extreme places. PENGUIN PARTS
FEATHERS are short and oily. They trap warm air. They also keep out cold water and wind.
BODY SHAPE helps a penguin swim fast. Water fl ows over it easily.
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