Posts Tagged ‘King’

It Appears Penguins Have No Taste

February 20, 2015

PENGUINS are among the world’s most dedicated seafood eaters. But they can’t taste fish, biologists have discovered. The Penguin Post has learned that Chinese and American researchers have found that the flightless birds have only two of the five basic tastes — salty and sour — after losing the capacity to detect sweet, bitter and “umami” or savoury flavours.

Jianzhi Zhang, a genomic evolutionist at the University of Michigan, said the results were surprising. “Penguins eat fish, so you would guess they need the umami receptor genes,” he said. The discovery, revealed in the journal Current Biology, adds to the taste limitations known to bedevil some of the world’s most loved and loathed creatures. “Whales and dolphins have lost all tastes except salty,” Professor Zhang told The Australian. “Vampire bats have lost sweet and umami tastes.”

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavour, scientists have found.

Adelie penguins and their water-going cousins can’t taste their prey’s fishy flavor, scientists have found.

Birds also lack receptors for sweet flavors, even though many eat fruit and nectar. Scientists believe birds lost the T1R2 gene — which is crucial for tasting sugar — sometime during or after their evolution from meat-eating dinosaurs. The latest study found that receptors for detecting bitter and savory tastes were also missing from the genomes of Adelie and emperor penguins. Subsequent research revealed the other 15 penguin species also lacked these genes.

The researchers believe another key gene, known as TRPM5, may have effectively been frozen out of the genome of living penguins’ most recent common ancestor during an evolutionary stint in Antarctica. TRPM5 is “temperature-sensitive” and doesn’t function properly when things “get really cold”, the journal reported. While some penguins now inhabit warmer latitudes, all penguin species trace their roots to the frozen continent. But the study has raised a chicken-and-egg question, with the researchers unsure if penguins swallow fish whole because they can’t taste them, or vice-versa. Anatomical studies have found that penguins’ tongues are covered by a thick layer rather than taste buds, suggesting they’re used to catch food rather than taste it. “Their tongue structure and function suggest that penguins need no taste perception,” Professor Zhang said. “It is unclear whether these traits are a cause or a consequence of major taste loss.

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Midwest Penguin Exhibit That Needs Your Help

May 8, 2014

When you think of penguins, the first thing you probably think of is an Antarctic climate full of snow and ice. But there’s plenty of penguins that live in temperate climates: and those are the ones we usually find in our zoo’s and aquariums.  Especially, the smaller zoo’s that don’t have the resources to build indoor climate controlled exhibits that feature penguins in need of a colder environment like Emperor’s, King’s, Adelie’s and Chinstraps.

APTOPIX Britain London Zoo Count

Now the Penguin Post has learned that there’s an African penguin exhibit at the Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield, Illinois that needs your help. The penguin home is nearly 30 years old, and the zoo staff is hoping you can help build a healthier environment for the penguins to call home.

“The fundraiser invites the youth of the community to help out the zoo’s African penguins by collecting pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even dollars to help build them a new home,” Kim Alexander of the Henson Robinson Zoo said. “Bring the banks back to the zoo, or take the money to any Springfield-area Illinois National Bank to deposit the money for the penguins.” The zoo’s plans include demolition and rebuilding of the building that houses the penguins, as well as a renovation of the outdoor space to more closely mimic the penguins’ natural environment.

Penguin Fun Facts

April 26, 2014

In honor of World Penguin Day today—and just because they’re just so darn cute—we decided to round up some fun facts that you may not know about everyone’s favorite flightless bird.  Penguins!

1. All 17 species of penguins are naturally found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

 

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2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

 

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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

 

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4. Penguins’ striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, their black backs blend into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, their white bellies are hidden against the bright surface.

 

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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

 

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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

 

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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

 

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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

 

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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

 

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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

 

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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

 

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

 

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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

 

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14. If a female Emperor Penguin’s baby dies, she will often “kidnap” an unrelated chick—but rather than raise it as her own, she soon abandons the stolen chick.

 

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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

 

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16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard for Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the earth in 1520 when the animals were caught near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them “geese.”)

 

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17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama’s 1497 voyage around Cape Horn makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

 

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18. Penguins evolved to stay in the Southern Hemisphere because there are no land predators, like wolves or polar bears, to take make quick work of the plump flightless prey.

 

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19. Because they aren’t used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

 

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20. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

 

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21. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to Great Auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled Auks, and called them penguins.

 

 

Penguin Personality Quiz

April 27, 2013

Who can resist those snappy little personality quizzes? Somehow it feels as though some great mystery about ourselves will be revealed, though it never is.

Still, you might have been spending a lot of time wondering whether you’re an Adelie sort of penguin or a Chinstrap. The people at Pew Charitable Trusts’ environmental group seemingly have been aware of how many sleepless nights you’ve had pondering this very issue, so they came up with a Penguin Personality Quiz.

The official reason is that  Thursday was World Penguin Day — because of course every month, every week, every day, is named for something, and I’m not just talking about the sun, the moon and Norse gods.

I’m not sure how we got into all this cute naming of days in honor of one concept or another, but in any case, penguins are apparently so cute that they take up two days every year — there’s also a Penguin Awareness Day in January — leaving very little room for all the other species whose habitats are shrinking.

And the real reason is to drum up support for a far more serious test later this year: Will two dozen nations plus the European Union vote to create a marine sanctuary in the waters off  Antarctica? Russia and China are the biggest obstacles to the idea, which is supported by most of the other nations.

Into saving penguins as much as Penguin Place? Then you might want to check to see if you have an Emperor in you. Penguins apparently have pretty simple personalities; the quiz is very short.

Penguin-Pedia

January 20, 2012

Just in time for Penguin Awareness Day is the arrival at Penguin Place of what may be the definitive all-penguin publication of this generation.  Penguin-Pedia, a 312 page hardcover homage to penguins and everything penguins.  Written by David Salomon, a real estate developer from Dallas, TX, who spent 2 summers traveling the southern hemisphere to photograph all 17 species of penguin.  Mr. Salomon’s goal in writing Penguin-Pedia was to increase penguin interest and awareness by creating the most comprehensive penguin book to date, while also making it enjoyable to look at and easy to read.  It covers all extant species, each with its own chapter broken up into 16 different sections that focus on individual aspects of that species’ life, along with charts of specific information on each species’ diet, calendar, measurements and other numeric data.   To encourage penguin fans to go see penguins for themselves, Mr. Salomon has included a section called “Where to Find a Penguin,” which contains both a list of penguin colonies in the wild and a list of zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world. All photographs in the book are Mr. Salomon’s own, and there are even a dozen trip suggestions to locations such as South Africa , The Galapagos Islands, and The Falkland Islands. Penguin-Pedia.  What the penguin loving world has been looking for.