Penguins are adorable birds that live on continents from the Southern hemisphere. People worldwide have fallen in love with how these birds waddle around. Watching the way they walk, you might wonder if penguins have knees.
Penguins do have knees. Their legs comprise a short femur, tibia, fibula, and knees. The penguin’s legs appear short because its body hides the upper legs. However, their legs are actually long when they’re extended. The upper leg is hidden in the body cavity, which makes it easier for the bird to deep dive into the water.
Believe it or not, the bone structure of penguin legs isn’t much different from yours. A lot of people thought differently because of how these birds walk. Since penguins swim instead of fly, their leg skeletal structure and muscles are important for movement.
Penguins Do Have Knees
While penguins have knees, there’s more to their leg skeletal structure than what meets the eye. When most people look at a penguin walk, they are under the impression that their ankles are their knees. This is because you can’t actually see the penguin’s knees when you’re looking at one.
The upper portion of the penguin’s legs is hidden inside its body cavity and covered in feathers. This is because the penguin’s body is suited to be in the water the majority of the time. By being tucked inside the body, the penguin’s legs add less drag underwater, which helps the bird dive deeper into the water for food.
This is also the reason why penguins waddle when they’re on land. When people walk, they bend their knees as they move their legs. This helps to keep them straight and stable. When penguins walk, their knees are already bent, so they waddle to keep themselves stable.
Do Penguins Use Their Knees?
Since penguins waddle, it may look like they don’t use their knees. This may look like the case when you see how clumsy the birds are on land. However, their knees are very important to their structure. It only appears that penguins don’t use their knees because their range of motion is limited.
On land, penguins tend to spend more time on their stomachs sliding around. This is because walking on land is difficult for penguins and uses up a lot of their energy. They use their knees to aid in pushing their bodies around while sliding. This way of moving on land is a lot easier for the birds than walking.
Penguins also use their knees to help with shuffling around in the arctic regions. Their knees are helpful to them when they’re walking around in snowy areas.
However, the most useful purpose of penguins’ knees has nothing to do with mobility. Penguins are known to habitat in cold regions, yet they need to keep their eggs warm. They will keep their eggs incubated by keeping them held close to their knees. Then the penguins will balance the eggs on their toes.
Do Penguins Use Knees In Water?
The position of the penguin’s knees helps the bird swim. Penguins keep their knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Since they’re tucked, they create less drag from the bird in the water. However, penguins can still extend their legs underwater, which is necessary for gliding. The penguin will bend and then extend their legs to propel in the water.
Penguins spend approximately 75 to 80% of their time in the water. For that reason, their bodies are designed to be most efficient in the water. This is a key reason why a penguin’s bones are different from other birds.
An interesting fact about penguins is that they are flightless birds. All of the bird species that fly have hollow bones. This is because they need to be as lightweight as possible to fly efficiently.
The penguin’s skeletal structure is different because they need to be efficient swimmers. If a penguin had hollow bones, it would float to the top of the water. For that reason, a penguin’s bones are denser. This allows them to swim deep in the water to hunt for food.
Another fun fact about penguins is that they are the most streamlined animal in the world. This means that their body’s structure is designed to swim efficiently with very little resistance to the water.
Also Read: Where Do Penguins Live
Do Penguins Have Ankles?
It’s common for people to mistake a penguin’s ankles for their knees. Part of the reason why this happens is that their ankles are unlike any other bird (or animal, for that matter). A penguin’s ankles are formed where its foot is fused into its body. The heel of their foot is where their ankle is.
This results in the penguins having very strong ankles. The most important part of its ankle is the bone called the tarsometatarsus. This bone is shorter and wider in penguins than it is in other bird species.