The Arctic region has always been a paradise for birds and bird lovers. Norway and Iceland are some of the busiest and breathtaking bird cliffs on across the globe. Most of the birds like guillemots, terns, fulmars, and puffins thrive in the Arctic, then why not penguins? Although there are no penguins in the Arctic region today, so is that mean that they have never lived there before? If you have all these queries then, dig in this article now!
Why is it that penguins evolved in the Southern Hemisphere and not in the Arctic?
Check out the few possible reasons behind this evolution:
- It is a flightless bird
The flight is the most important feature that an Artic region bird must possess. It is essential for defense against land predators. Having the ability to flight will allow them to escape from the attack and settle high up on the cliffs.
- Penguins form their nest on land
They evolve to breed, incubate, nest, and raise their chicks on the ground or in the tunnels. Penguins are safe from predators in the Southern region. On the other hand, they will always be under threat in the northern hemisphere, i.e., the arctic part.
- Penguins are born divers and not flyers
They are the most efficient underwater divers on Earth. One of the primary reasons for them being a diver is that they have lightweight, massive flippers, and flexible wings. Having flippers make them unable to fly but make them a true underwater survivor. The bones of the penguins are thick than any other bird, which makes them unable to fly but helps them to dive deeper.
Were penguins ever-present in the Arctic region?
Yes, penguins were present in the Arctic region in the 1930s & 40s.
In 1936, Lars Christensen, a Norwegian polar explorer, saw a potential for the population of penguins to survive in the Arctic region. So, he took nine king penguins from South Georgia’s beaches and left them in the northern hemisphere. The penguins were made to settle on the Lofoten island, where they had no threat of predators like foxes. In a decade, many other species of penguins were evolved, including macaroni penguins.
However, they lived in the Arctic region for a short duration and last seen in the year 1949. Since then, no one is sure where they went or did they managed to reproduce more. The Arctic region played as a host to a small population of penguins that, too, for a short time.
Bird related to penguins in the northern part
A great black and white bird was commonly known as the Great Auk (pinguinis impennis), was the native Arctic penguin which was last seen in 1844. It was a flightless seabird that had a lot in common with the penguins. It was a playful, little graceful white bird that could dive up to 1km deep. It was just about 2.5- 2.8 ft high, which makes it safe from the predators except for killer whales and polar bears. It was present in the northern regions like Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Nothern Canada, and the Faroe Islands for thousands of years. But human hunting drove them towards their extinction.
Although penguins can not live in the Northern but their legacies, they have once lived in the North in the way of Great Auk.