How Do Penguins Keep Warm?


Quick Answer

Penguins keep warm by huddling together to share body heat and cut down on the wind chill. For the penguins on the outside of the circle to keep warm, the penguins continually shuffle in a wave-like movement. The back penguins move toward the middle, while the middle penguins move outward.

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Full Answer

One way penguins stay warm is through a thermal convection process. For example, emperor penguins' feathers help to move warmer air toward their bodies. In addition, the low temperature of emperor penguins' feathers helps to insulate the penguins' bodies from the cold air.

They also stay warm through biological adaptations. For instance, the feathers of the Adelie penguin cover the nose to keep in heat. Black feathers also help absorb heat from sunlight.

Penguins lose only 20 percent body heat in cold air because of an adaptation in their nasal passages that allows them to recapture their own body heat. Some species of penguins have a layer of body fat that acts as insulation against cold, especially those penguins that spend a large amount of time in the water or in colder climates. Penguins also tuck their heads and flippers into their bodies to keep all available heat in the body.

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