Story: Penguins

Body shape

Body shape

A penguin’s form differs from that of flying birds, and is more similar to other long-distance swimmers such as whales, dolphins, seals and tuna. With bodies tapered at both ends, they encounter little resistance as they push through the dense medium of water. These powerful swimmers also have side flippers just ahead of their widest point. Their rear-pointing flippers, tail flukes or feet make for drag-free steering or propulsion. Penguins’ feet are also near their tail when on land, which is why they walk upright, unlike other birds.

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How to cite this page:

Lloyd Spencer Davis, 'Penguins - Body shape', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 February 2023)

Story by Lloyd Spencer Davis, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 11 Jul 2016