How much do you know about penguins?

A penguin colony
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Penguins are some of the most loved birds on the planet. Their distinctive coloring, signature waddle, and amazing swimming skills keep us fascinated. Test how much you know about these adorable animals!

Question 1 of 15

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Macaroni penguins
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How many species of penguins are alive today?

Conservatively speaking, there are 17 species of penguin alive today. Some scientists argue that there are as many as 20. For example, some scientists argue that the white-flippered penguin is its own species while others say it is a subspecies of the little blue penguin. But there are at least 17 species of penguin in the world right now.

Question 2 of 15

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Penguin looking to sea
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Which is the only species of penguin to sometimes venture north of the equator?

In the wild, penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere. However, the Galapagos penguin lives close enough to the equator that every once in a while, one can be spotted on the northern half of the globe hunting for food.

Question 3 of 15

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A penguin eating fish
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Penguins have teeth.

Penguins don't actually have teeth. But they do have fleshy spines that line the inside of their mouths. These backward-facing spines help them hold food and direct it into their throats for easier swallowing.

Question 4 of 15

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A family of little penguins
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Little blue penguins, sometimes called fairy penguins, are the smallest penguin species. They stand how tall?

These tiniest of penguins stand a mere 16 inches high. While this makes them extra adorable, it also makes them extra vulnerable to predators like dogs and stoats that have been introduced to their native habitat.

Question 5 of 15

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Black penguin feet on sand
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Which penguin species is considered the most endangered?

Each of these penguin species have their own challenges, and the Galapagos, African and yellow-eyed species are all endangered. However, the yellow-eyed is considered the most rare. There are only around 4,000 individuals left. Meanwhile, the Galapagos penguin is estimated to have a mere 3,000-8,000 individuals left, and the African penguin, while it has around 55,000 individuals left, is experiencing such a rapid rate of decline that the species could go extinct in as little as 15 years.

Question 6 of 15

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Little blue penguin colony
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Which animal is used to guard colonies of little blue penguins from non-native predators like dogs, stoats, rats, cats and foxes?

Livestock guardian dogs have been successfully used to protect little blue penguins from predators. The Maremma, a breed used for guarding poultry, sheep and goats, has a placid demeanor and low play drive. After several trials, there have been positive strides in using these dogs to protect penguin colonies from introduced animals that can make a quick meal of a small flightless bird.

Question 7 of 15

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A penguin colony
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The coloring of a penguin is called:

Penguin coloration is called countershading, and it's a way for the birds to be camouflaged in the water whether a predator is looking down from the sky or up from the depths. The black on their backs makes them look like any shadow blending into the dark ocean below. Meanwhile their white bellies help them blend in, to some degree, with the bright surface of the ocean above. The countershading is not only good for evading predators but is also helpful for sneaking up on prey.

Question 8 of 15

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Emperor penguin jumping out of water
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How long can emperor penguins stay under water?

Emperor penguins can hold their breath for an impressive 20 minutes, sometimes a little longer. This is far longer than it seems an animal of their size and activity level should be able to stay under water. They accomplish it by shifting their body to "anaerobic metabolism" during a long dive. They slow their heartbeat and shut down non-essential organs, sort of like suspended animation, but they're still active in swimming and hunting. One emperor penguin tracked by scientists hit a record for all diving birds at 27.6 minutes! Despite this extreme ability, most dives last only between 2-3 minutes.

Question 9 of 15

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A penguin skull in a human hand
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The earliest known penguin fossil is dated to:

The earliest penguin fossil found dates back to 61.6 million years ago, from the Middle Paleocene era. The species Waimanu manneringi is the earlier of two known species that are ancestors to today's penguins. It stood upright, at about 4.5 feet tall, and waddled like our modern penguins. However, it probably wasn't as skilled a swimmer. The adaptations for life as an aquatic bird took modern penguins a little while to develop.

Question 10 of 15

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Penguin on a beach
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When penguins molt, they lose and regrow all their feathers at once. This is called:

Rather than lose and replace a few feathers at a time like most bird species, penguins take a more dramatic approach to molting. About two weeks before the catastrophic molt begins, they gorge on food to build up fat reserves. Then they head to land to start the process of losing and regrowing feathers. During this time they aren't waterproof and can't swim to feed. Over the 2-3 weeks it takes to molt, they live off their fat reserves. After their molt, the penguins have a new set of feathers that will keep them warm and dry for another year.

Question 11 of 15

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penguin feathers
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This penguin species has the highest feather density of any bird species:

Not only are emperor penguins the tallest species and can hold their breath the longest, but they also have the highest density of feathers at 100 feathers per square inch!

Question 12 of 15

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Penguin chased after an orca
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Which is not a natural predator for a penguin?

Penguins have a variety of predators including leopard seals, sea lions, orcas, skuas, snakes, sharks and foxes. Even cats and dogs are a threat. However, since there are no penguins in the Northern Hemisphere, and there are no polar bears in the Southern Hemisphere, a polar bear isn't a threat to them.

Question 13 of 15

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penguin porpoising through the waves
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Which penguin species is the fastest swimmer?

Finally a title for a superlative that the emperor penguin doesn't claim! Instead, the winner is the gentoo penguin, which can reach speeds of 22 miles per hour. Most other penguins swim between 4-7 miles per hour, which shows just how fast a gentoo actually is!

Question 14 of 15

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penguin with grass
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What do penguins eat?

Depending on the species of penguin, the staple of the diet will vary, with some species specializing in different krill or fish than others. But over all, penguins dine on krill, fish and squid as their primary food sources.

Question 15 of 15

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A penguin raft
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A group of penguins on land is usually called a colony or a waddle. But a group of penguins at sea is called:

Similar to other species, including ducks and sea otters, a group of penguins in the water is called a raft.

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