African penguins: features of external structure and behavior
Do you know at least one animal that isstronger and longer than a stubborn donkey? It turns out that such a representative of the terrestrial fauna really exists. And it's not anyone, but a penguin, and African. The ability to make heartbreaking screams, similar to the cries of an ass, was the reason that African penguins are often called donkeys.
For a long time penguins were considereda separate kind of animals. Only relatively recently the analysis of the structure of DNA allowed scientists to find out that they belong to a variety of seabirds. Also scientists are sure that penguins are one of the oldest representatives of birds. And perhaps, their evolutionary development began back in the era of dinosaurs.
African penguins are the biggest spectacledpenguins. Their growth can reach 70 cm. The maximum weight is 5 kg. They have a standard coloring - black behind, white in front, that is "under the tailcoat." But the penguins "Africans" have their own individual peculiarity. This is a black strip, transverse at the chest level and descending along the sides. Thus, in form it resembles a horseshoe.
All penguins, including African, possessunusual ability to stand and move vertically. This is possible due to the special structure of their paws, which are equipped with membranes of leather. With the help of these paws, as well as wings that resemble the paddle in shape, they swim well.
The baby is not as pretty as the adultAfrican penguin. The nestling is covered with brown-gray down, which only after reaching adulthood acquires a blue hue. The solid and threatening appearance of these birds is also due to the special shape of the beak and the presence of harpoon teeth, thanks to which the chicks fish "dead grip".
Features of behavior
African penguins feed mainly on anchovies and sardines.
Life expectancy varies within10-12 years. Sexual maturation occurs at the age of 4-5 years. The female lays, as a rule, 2 eggs at a time. Parents sit them in turn for 40 days. For donkey penguins, the pronounced season of reproduction is not distinct. Only the dependence of the hatchery season on the habitat in which the African penguin is located is known. Interesting facts about penguins became the object of research by Argentine scientists. They found out: among the "Africans" there are couples who have not parted for 16 years. That is why penguins are called one of the most faithful modern representatives of fauna.
African penguin is also characterized by a goodendurance. Representatives of this species dive to a depth of more than 100 m, hold their breath for several minutes, can swim without stopping to 120 km, while developing a speed of up to 20 km / h.
Under the protection of the Red Book
At the beginning of the 20th century, these birds were on the verge ofextinction. The reason for this was the use of their eggs for food by the local population. African penguins did not have time to hatch eggs, as the inhabitants simply collected them. To date, this species is listed in the International Red Data Book and is protected by law. But even despite the protection, African ornithologists have noted a decline in the population of this species of penguins by almost 50% over the past five years. Scientists associate this fact with the depletion of fish stocks in ocean waters. Intensive commercial fishing leads to the fact that African penguins lack food, which in turn leads to the threat of the disappearance of this species of birds.
Where do African penguins live, you can understand byname of the species. They live on the coasts of South Africa and Namibia, as well as the nearby islands, where the cold Benguela current is localized. They live in colonies. To date, there are 140-180 thousand individuals, whereas, according to research, in 1900 the population consisted of 2 million individuals.