Posted by: buggy | 23 December, 2005

The Emperor’s New Walking Stick

Bugg's Take

My colleagues are probably sick of hearing this question from me by now.

"Hey… have you ever wondered how penguins stand back up after falling down?""Hey… have you ever wondered how penguins stand back up after falling down?"

"Hey… have you ever wondered how penguins stand back up after falling down?"

Ok, so I'm nothing if not persistent.

So here's some random musings on why I find this question so compelling…

I admit I have some morbid fascination with these fellas.

I mean…. when I look at them, they just look….. WRONG…

1) Look at their feet. They have small tiny feet, and so close together. This gives a very small base of stability. I'm sure they fall over pretty often.

2) They're top heavy. High centre of gravity. Also, prime conditions for falling over easily.

3) They have almost no upper limbs to speak of. They have these flaps for wings/arms. Kinda like the T Rex with the tiny forearms. What are they FOR???


Ok ok… to be fair, my scientific and logical brain says that this animal was probably engineered for swimming in the sea, rather than walking (or standing up) on land.

1) Sleek insulated fur. To keep the cold water out. Plus, their tuxedo design makes them look spiffily dressed, all season round. Some things just never go out of style.

2) Torpedo shaped body. To glide through the water. Hardly ideal for standing on land though.

3) Those silly feet on ground, make great flippers in the water to power them along.

4) Those flappy arms, would make killer rudders in the water to steer with.


Now that I've gotten that out of my system, which Basement post would be complete without something obligatorily shocking/gross/awe inspiring/shockingly awesomely gross.

So I found this question posted on a Penguin FAQ (I didn't ask this one ok? I simply wanted to know how penguins stood up after falling over):

"What colour is penguin poop?"

And here's the answer, complete with pictorial evidence.

Hole left by the body heat of an Adeile penguin who waited out a storm for several days…with skidmarks! And those are feathers at the bottom of the hole.

"It's kinda white with greenish and darkish streaks when it comes out, but when it dries it turns to reddish for Adelies and greenish for Emperors. The red comes from all the krill that they eat and there are large quantities of this red 'mud' accumulated around the rookeries (sometimes as much as 10cm thick).

The green is probably bile due to the fact that the Emperors fast for a long period; the ice is covered with it in spring and melts back into the sea.

The fact that adelie penguins nest on rock outcrops makes it so that the higher ones 'shower' the lower ones. Just like in our own society I guess… "



  1. Question:
    The emperor fast and yet it poos?

  2. >___

  3. Too bad you couldn’t join us for karaoke on friday night. we went for ramen after that and they were showing just what’s perfect to answer your qns: March of the Penguins.

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