Penguins can be found on every continent in the Southern Hemisphere from Australia to Africa, but most can be found in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic islands.
These fascinating animals have adapted to live in the coldest, harshest environments on earth by using social behaviors such as huddling.
Today, we’re going to answer a question that often comes up when discussing penguins and put an end to the false information out there. Are penguins birds or fish?
Penguins are birds. However, they are flightless sea birds that are now unable to fly due to their large fat supplies and short wings.
Are Penguins Fish or Birds?
Penguins are most certainly birds, but they are unable to fly, therefore they are flightless birds.
It’s easy to see why some people mistake penguins for being fish as they spend a lot of their time in the water hunting for food.
However, despite their marine lifestyle penguins are birds that are now unable to fly due to their body weight and short wings.
They lost the ability to fly eons ago as it wasn’t necessary for them to do so as they feed primarily on fish, krill, shrimp, and other marine crustaceans.
Why Is A Penguin A Bird And Not A Fish?
Penguins fulfill all biological requirements to be classified as birds – they have feathers, lay eggs, and are also warm-blooded.
They even have wings, although they are no longer suitable for flying due to their heavy bodies and lack of need for flying.
Fish are aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack limbs with digits. They are a group of animals that live in almost any place where there is water.
Penguins on the other hand have lungs and do not have gills, meaning they are unable to stay submerged for extended periods without coming to the surface to breathe.
Why Do Penguins Have Wings?
Although penguins are unable to fly and take off from the ground, their wings help them “fly” through the water effortlessly to catch fish and escape predators.
Penguins are some of the best swimmers in the animal kingdom, and if it wasn’t for their wings they would likely fall victim to the many predators that they have.
Their wings move like flippers and act as a rudder to help steer them through the water. A penguin’s wings help them to change direction at incredible speed, making them super agile in the water.
Penguin wings and breast muscles are well developed, allowing penguins to cut through the water easily and at speeds of up to 30km/h depending on the species.
Hopefully, this post has provided you with a suitable answer for are penguins birds or fish? They are most certainly birds, albeit flightless birds.
Penguins do live in the same habitat as many species of fish, but they are built very differently and lack some of the main fish features.
They don’t have gills, which means they are unable to extract oxygen from the water and stay submerged for long periods.
However, rather impressively they can hold their breath for around 20 minutes, but after this time they must surface to breathe air once again.
Penguins actually have all the characteristics of birds – they have feathers, wings, lay eggs, and are even warm-blooded.
This is very different from the characteristics of fish, although it’s easy to see why some people may think penguins are fish.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to stick around to learn more about penguins and the other types of marine life that we discuss here.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.