Penguins… but more to come!

by Greg Mayer

Jerry gave us our first taste of Antarctic wildlife from his expedition earlier today, showing some penguins on an iceberg. I think we can expect more shortly, but in the meantime here are some Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti), native to the coasts of Peru and Chile.

Humboldt Penguins, Spheniscus humboldti, at the Milwaukee Zoo, 2 November 2019.

These are at the Milwaukee Zoo, where I took my vertebrate zoology class last Saturday. Humboldt Penguins form a superspecies with the Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus, to the north, in the Galapagos) and the Magellanic Penguin (Sphensicus magellanicus, to the south, in southern Chile around to Argentina and the Falklands).

The Humboldts are in an outdoor exhibit, but there are more penguins in the Aviary, where I got a short video of a Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) swimming. Note how it uses its wings in a flying motion to propel itself through the water.

And, keep an eye out for wild penguins from Jerry!


  1. rickflick
    Posted November 6, 2019 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Little torpedoes. We saw these on our visit to the Galapagos. Smaller than most species, as I recall, which makes them ultra-cute.

  2. Posted November 6, 2019 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Wild penguins, away from the ice edge or shore, are inquisitive and seemingly fearless. As battalions marched toward the shore and passed by me while on the ice, many stopped, inspected me, dismissed me, and then resumed their march.

    Utterly cute, noisy, and wondrous.

    • Posted November 6, 2019 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      … and they will cuss too when they fall down as shown here: 🙂

      • rickflick
        Posted November 6, 2019 at 9:08 pm | Permalink


      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 7, 2019 at 12:50 am | Permalink

        I know that feeling.

    • Mark R.
      Posted November 6, 2019 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      I read it aloud and it had great poetic merit. 🙂

  3. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 7, 2019 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Insomnia led me to an interesting article about left-handed women, smell and absence of olfactory bulbs … which I thought “that’ll interest Prof.Cobb and his flies noses.
    Clearly, the science correspondent agreed.

    BBC News – Left-handed women’s quirk over sense of smell

    “The scientists stumbled across the first example when doing brain scans of people with a healthy sense of smell as part of a completely unrelated study.
    Researcher Prof Noam Sobel told BBC News: “We could not find any sign of olfactory bulb in her brain, it’s an anomaly – this does not make sense, right?”
    The woman was left-handed and the researchers wanted to compare her brain to other left-handed women, to see what was going on.
    They only had to scan another nine brains before they found another woman with no bulbs, but a cracking sense of smell.”

    Or, as has been said before, the most powerful words in science are “that’s odd”.
    I’m sure Matthew has some commentary for the morning. The embargo seems to have lifted.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 7, 2019 at 1:06 am | Permalink

      Wasn’t there discussion here some time ago about the presence or absence of a sense of smell in cetaceans, but wouldn’t it be retained in amphibious organisms like seals. And penguins?
      But without land-based predators, would penguins have retained a sense of smell.
      What about marine iguanas and Galapagos penguins? Anyone know how they smell.

      Obligatory joke : -“My dog has no nose!”
      “Really, how does he smell?”
      – “Awful !”

    • Posted November 7, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Related: what’s the status of what is known of the human vomeronasal organ? Could this be how someone without an olfactory bulb has a sense of smell?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 13, 2019 at 2:48 am | Permalink

        Fair question. I’m sure the Professor of Pong has three cents to throw in on that one.

  4. Posted November 7, 2019 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I fell in love with a penguin once… We saw Humbolt penguins in Puerto Natales the year we lived in Chile.

  5. Posted November 23, 2019 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    loved that video of the fall! cutie sound.

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