Ad

Where do penguins live?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

By Valerie Clark

You might think that cute little penguins are natural prey for polar bears in the arctic. Fortunately (for penguins), an encounter between a polar bear and penguin is not possible. Penguins live at the south pole and polar bears are at the north pole.

Polar bear habitats and their 2015 status, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Polar bear habitats and their 2015 status, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Photo Credit: WWF.

Many people do not realize that penguins are only found in the southern hemisphere. They live on many continents, but the one often confused is Antarctica, the frozen continent at the bottom of the globe.

As for polar bears, these white and furry creatures live in the Arctic, including parts of North America. The climate may seem similar Antarctic, but there are many differences. For example, Antarctica is a continent surrounded by ocean. The Arctic is a frozen ocean surrounded by continents.

There are 18 species of penguins, and they are all found in the southern hemisphere. Some experts think penguins evolved from a bird that could fly, and that’s how they got to Antarctica. Today’s penguins are flightless birds with highly developed swimming skills. They live along the shoreline where they have immediate access to food, such as fish, squid, and krill. Only a few species of penguins live in Antarctica, the coldest part of their range. Most penguins live in the temperate zone, along the coast of South America, South Africa, and New Zealand. One species of penguin lives on the Galapagos Islands, but that’s as far north as they go. The only penguins you’ll find living north of the equator are in zoos.

Penguins, with the exception of Emperor Penguins, cannot nest in ice - their eggs would freeze and die before hatching. Because of this, all the other species of Penguins, such as these Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) establish their colonies in rocky outcrops, sometimes really far from the sea. The continuous comings and goings of thousands of penguins from the colony to the sea and back excavate these "Penguin Highways" in the ice. Photo credit: Arturo de Frias.
Penguins, with the exception of Emperor Penguins, cannot nest in ice – their eggs would freeze and die before hatching. Because of this, all the other species of Penguins, such as these Gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) establish their colonies in rocky outcrops, sometimes really far from the sea. The continuous comings and goings of thousands of penguins from the colony to the sea and back excavate these “Penguin Highways” in the ice. Photo credit: Arturo de Frias.

Though there is only one species of polar bear (Ursus maritimus), all individual members live in one of 19 areas spread across four Arctic regions. Ancestors of polar bears were probably brown bears that walked from North America northward. Today, approximately 60 percent of polar bears live in Canada. The other 40 percent can be found in parts of Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.

If polar bears and penguins did live on the same continent, it’s easy to imagine a natural prey-predator relationship between the two species. Millions of years ago, however, the roles were likely reversed, according to recent research that indicates the modern penguin’s distant dinosaur relative was an apex predator, feeding on species much larger than today’s polar bear.

Next time you see a picture of a polar bear and penguin in the same habitat (as in our trick question graphic below), you’ll know it’s wrong.

Penguins-Polar-Bear-THE-SUPER-FINS-opt

Sources:

http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask_st/072193.html

http://www.adelie.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/FAQs/north.htm

http://www.livescience.com/27434-penguin-facts.html

http://earthsky.org/earth/penguins-north-pole

http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/polar-bear-facts-information/where-do-polar-bears-live

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

FacebooktwitterpinterestFacebooktwitterpinterest