By Scott A. Rowan
Why is a fat penguin is a sexy penguin?
Most humans want to avoid the “dunlop” – that pouch of fat that flops over the belt, as in or “my belly has done lopped over the belt” – but the “dunlop” is a very attractive trait if you’re an Emperor or King Penguin.
Yes, being fat is good if you’re a male and an Emperor or King Penguin.
Most penguins lay eggs in a nest on the ground, but not the Emperor Penguin and the King Penguin. Both of those species lay a single egg which the parents hold on their feet so that it doesn’t touch the ground. To insulate the egg from the elements, penguins develop a paunch on the belly that covers the egg. This flap of skin is called a “brood pouch” and is a very desirable trait for males to have because protecting the egg until it hatches ensures that his DNA is carried on to another generation of penguins.
Only male Emperor Penguins handle the incubation period. Once the chicks are hatched, the males will go to the ocean to feed and return to help his mate raise the chick through molting.
King Penguins share the incubation period. They are smaller than Emperor Penguins and cannot last a full two months without food. The incubation period for King penguins is just less than two months, at approximately 54 days. However, male King Penguins cannot last 54 days without food. If the female doesn’t return in time for the male to not starve to death, the adult male will abandon the egg to eat and not starve to death. After all, it’s better for an adult to try again next year than to have an adult die trying to save an egg that also died.
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