The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

I’d heard about this unique guy years ago. He’s an emperor penguin with a genetic mutation called melanin. It’s kind of the opposite of being an albino. His chest is solid black instead of tuxedo white.

The first time I saw a photo of him was back in 2006. I was stunned he’d made it to adulthood. He must be a lot more visible to predators, especially when the snow is at its peak down at the south pole. And yet, he persisted.

We know he is still alive, because he was recently caught on film. (Technically it could be a she. No one knows for sure.) Before, we only had still photos of him taken by tourists. Now we get to see him waddling around amongst his peers, apparently being treated no better or worse than the others. He looks healthy.

That pleases me greatly, because over the years I’ve often thought of him, and wondered if he had survived. It looks like he’s getting plenty of food. Does he get to mate? Do penguins care about color?

I hope he gets to mate. I mean, what else is there to do down there? It’s not like he’s got a smart phone.

It’s no fun at all, being an odd duck. I’ve felt that way my entire life. So I’ve been rooting for this penguin. And from all appearances, he’s doing just fine. So there’s hope for all the misfits out there. If he can do it, we can, too.


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3 thoughts on “An Odd Penguin

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    Melanism…it’s not just for leopards.
    The white or pale underside, which reaches its ultimate in penguins and “tuxedo” cats, is called countershading and works to offset the shadow found on the tummy of a same-colored animal, when the light come from above, as is usual. Same thing underwater, when a leopard seal finds it hard to spot a white belly against the bright surface. Healthy penguins don’t have much to fear from skuas so they don’t need camouflage on land, but they seem to favor the tuxedo effect.
    An albino penguin might not be so lucky, as the white would absorb less heat when the sun comes out.
    Color oddities affect many critters. I’ve seen black squirrels, some just dark brown and one like a piece of ultimate darkness scurrying across the road. Cool!

    1. I’ve seen albino squirrels, too. Pretty amazing.

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