Grounded In Reality: Can Penguins Fly?

can penguins fly

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It’s a known fact that birds are able to fly, and given that penguins are seabirds that have wings and feathers, it makes sense that they would be able to fly too, right?

You may be wondering whether penguins are capable of flying, just like their bird cousins that are often seen soaring high up in our skies.

Well, today we’re going to take a closer look at penguins and answer a question that many of our readers are interested in. Can penguins fly?

No, penguins are flightless seabirds that are unable to fly. Even though they have wings and feathers, these are used to aid in the penguin’s swimming ability to help them catch krill and fish as well as evade predators.

Can Penguins Really Fly?

The only flying that penguins do is through the water at surprisingly fast speeds. Penguins are able to swim at speeds of up to 15 – 25 miler per hour, and they’re incredibly agile too.

Penguins spend around 75% of their lives in water, and out of the total 18 species of penguins, none of them are capable of flying.

Their feathers help keep them insulates from the Arctic climates in which they live, whilst their wings help them become incredibly strong swimmers, which is required to stay alive in their habitats.

Did Penguins Ever Fly?

The penguins that we know today have never been able to fly, but it’s likely that eons ago they were able to fly and evolved from flying birds.

It’s thought by scientists that as penguins got stronger at swimming, they began to lose their ability to fly as it was no longer required.

Their wings have become better adapted to help them swim and power through the water. They now have some of the most impressive swimming skills in the animal kingdom.

This evolution is also why their feathers are different from other birds. They have shorter, broader feathers that are incredibly dense to prevent the cold water from ever reaching their skin, even whilst underwater.

Many believe that once ancient penguins mastered swimming in the ocean, their need for flying was not required, so their bodies adapted to better suit life in the ocean than in the air.

Modern-day penguins have wing bones that have become fused straight, acting as a sort of paddle that can push them through the ocean with incredible power.

Why Can’t Penguins Fly?

The reason penguins are unable to fly is that they simply do not need to. They feed on small marine creatures such as krill and squid.

Larger penguins eat fish, but unlike birds, they do not eat insects or food that can be sourced on land or in the air.

As penguins evolved to live in the sea, their need for flying diminished, and therefore over millions of years they adapted and lost the ability to fly.

Modern penguins now have a lot of fat stored on their bodies to help keep them warm in the icy climates that they live in.

They also have short, stumpy wings that are used to help them swim faster, so flying simply wouldn’t be possible for penguins today.

Just getting off the ground would require a huge amount of energy for penguins, so why waste this energy when the ocean is an incredibly abundant source of food?

What Are Penguins Wings Used For?

Penguins’ wings are still used for flying, only not in the air, but in the ocean instead. Their wings have a tapered and flattened design which is perfect for pushing them through the ocean.

Their wings allow them to dive deep into the depths in order to catch squid and other prey, as well as to pursue fast-moving prey.

As well as helping penguins be excellent swimmers, their wings are also used to propel them from under the surface and back onto land, a skill that is essential for staying out of the jaws of hungry seals.

Wings are not only used for flying, and it’s worth keeping in mind that penguins are not the only flightless bird that exists.

Emus, Ostriches, Cassowary, and Takahes are all flightless birds that still have wings for one reason or another.

Final Thoughts

Can penguins fly? No, they can not. Their wings have evolved for swimming instead of flying, and they feed on species that live in the ocean such as krill.

Despite penguins having wings and feathers, they are very much flightless seabirds that spend most of their lives either on land or in the ocean.

Their “wings” are perfect for being agile whilst swimming and are capable of propelling them up to 25 miles per hour when chasing prey or escaping predators.

Penguin feathers are also used for thermoregulation and to insulate them from the cold and harsh environment in which they live.

Hopefully, you’ve learned why penguins are unable to fly today and have enjoyed reading this post.

Thanks for taking the time to visit MarinePatch today and feel free to stick around to learn more about penguins and other marine life.