How Do Penguins Survive?

Penguins are specially adapted to survive and thrive in cold climates, thanks to features that keep them warm, including a layer of fat and feathers, special adaptations in the nasal passages to recycle heat lost during breathing and huddling behaviors that allow them to enjoy heat from other penguins. The penguins' feet are covered in feathers and fat that ensure that they can stand on ice without their feet being affected by hypothermia.

Among warm-blooded animals, the penguin has the distinction of living in the most extreme weather conditions, and can even breed in bitter cold temperatures in the Arctic that reach as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit and with winds that roar up to 125 miles per hours, making it feel even colder. In fact, the temperature in the Arctic can freeze exposed human flesh in just seconds. Adaptions like a special nasal heat-exchange system that lets the penguin recapture as much as 80 percent of body heat lost during breathing and dark-colored dorsal feathers that absorb the sun's heat help penguins to stay warm.

Additionally, penguins huddle in large groups to help them fight the extreme temperatures. There may be thousands of penguins huddled together in one group, and the penguins work in social groups to ensure that those on the outer perimeter of the huddle are allowed to change places with those further inside the huddle to share the warmth.