Penguin Sex-capades

By CodingStrategies on April 21st, 2017

Once upon a time when the world was young, it was a very simple thing to fly and most creatures could do so if they only wished for it. What we now know as cats, dogs and horses could sprout wings on a whim and take flight. And if the birds tired of flight it was simple for them to take off their wings, and laze about on the ground for a while. Even fish from the barracuda to the smallest minnow got in on the action, flying, swimming or walking as pleased them on a given day.

Beware, cried the messengers of change, when the wheel of the ages next turns you will be stuck in the form you have, so choose your form wisely. The birds, animals and fish all hurried to assume their most comfortable forms, but certain creatures neglected to sort themselves out for one reason or other. Flying fish refused to give up their wings because they so loved the thrill of speeding and splashing up and down between the water and the air. Bats were mice who knew the best way to hide from cats would be above the ground, so they kept their wings. Flying squirrels did not really want to fly, but they were in in the air when the wheel turned and could not get down in time.

But pity the poor birds who did not put on their wings of flight in time! The ostriches had lost something precious down a hole, and all had their heads in the ground when the wheel of ages turned. Even now you will see them putting their heads down a hole to look for it, although history does not recall what it was they had lost in the first place. The dodo was simply not a bright bird in the first place, and was in fact content to waddle about the land for the rest of its days. And the penguins had perhaps the most curious lot of all, when the wheel turned they were all in the water swimming like fish, and when they heard the words of the spirit messengers they hurried to the shore, but found they were flightless forever. 

That is why penguins can swim in the water and walk on land, but can never fly, even if they want to. The wheel of ages has turned many times since then, but the possibility of regaining their flight has never been an option. Today, penguins have almost forgotten what it was like to fly, or that they ever could. But you will sometimes see them watching another creature fly so that when it goes over their heads they fall on their backs in wonder. They are trying to remember what it was like to move joyously through the air. [Adapted from UK Yahoo Answers!]

Penguins are cute, lovable and loyal companions, right? Maybe not. There is a myth that penguins mate for life, but this is actually untrue. In general, when both members of a pair that bred in prior years survive to return to the colony, about half ended up with a new partner. It turns out that female penguins are not influenced by the fact that the male has a central nest, is an experienced breeder or is known to the female from prior matches. Instead, a female is most interested in a male that has a nest close to her prior nesting site (there really is no place like home). And for those females who achieve breeding age for the first time, they seem to be most attracted to the male’s voice. So male penguins should skip the gym and take vocalization classes instead.

And while female penguins remain more or less faithful to their chosen male companion during a single breeding season, they are not adverse to sneaking way to meet a different male for a short interlude. Is it possible that the females know nearly nine percent of eggs are infertile (ICD-10-CM code N46.9, male infertility unspecified)? If so, she is hedging her bets by canoodling with an extra fella or two. The males are not oblivious to the possibility of a straying lady, so they tend to guard their chosen female closely and keep her occupied to prevent her straying in search of new lovers.

But wait, there’s more! Some female penguins actually use sex to dupe males out of the stones used to build their nests. At the beginning of the mating process, unpaired males have little to do except collect stones and try to court eligible females. These hapless suitors build nests that become veritable penguin mansions; a wealth of coveted stones. The female thief approaches the male on his nest and bows deeply, as if interested in joining him for some reproductive activity. The male, of course, bows deeply in response to indicate his interest in moving her into his attractive home. The male then shuffles aside to show the female his prime real estate, whereupon the female will simply bend down, grab a choice rock and march off with it to her own nest and her own lover.

The first person to be shocked by penguin depravity (and write about it) was a surgeon named George Murray Levick. He was part of an early British expedition to Antarctica, after which he published several descriptions of penguin lifestyle, habits and characteristics. He wrote at some length about unattached males, which he labeled “hooligans” and their depraved acts (ICD-10-CM code F52.8, Other sexual dysfunction), such as mating with injured females, dead penguins (ICD-10-CM code F65.89, Other paraphilias), each other and even the snow itself. At one point he wrote “There seems to be no crime too low for these penguins.” Levick was concerned that his documentation not fall into the hands of the innocent, so he switched to Greek when writing about observed penguin sex-capades.

And the male penguins have it tough once the eggs are laid. Some penguin species require that the males take the first egg-sitting shift, while his partner goes to sea to feed. Since penguins only eat when they are at sea, and he is already tired from impressing the female with his mating prowess, he may suffer from the resulting lack of nourishment. There are limits to a penguin’s avoirdupois, and a fasting male could eventually lose about 80 percent of his fat stores (ICD-10-CM code R63.0, Anorexia).

We tend to identify with penguins because they walk upright, look like they are dressed for a formal dinner and interact socially. If these penguins, which look so much like us (but cuter), are capable of cheating or mating with snow, what might be lurking just beneath our socialized surface?