A Quick-Look at some of the ways that Antarctic penguins are suited to their lifestyle. Penguins are some of the most successful animals in this extremely cold environment, what are their secrets?.

Penguin Adaptations
Illustrated overview - teaching resources with QR codes

A brief introduction to the ways that Antarctic penguins are adapted to their environment. 15 images with simple captions and QR codes to larger picture pages, single unlinked pages or as a slide-show

Printer friendly: This page, QR codes, captions and thumbnails  |  QR codes with captions, no thumbnails

How to use these pages and codes.

A QR (quick response) code is a simple way of connecting to a webpage. To use them you need a QR Reader app on a smart phone or tablet, you then scan the code and with another click you are taken to the webpage.

They give a simple real world way of finding a specific web resource and can be printed onto any paper document, worksheet, sticker etc. so make it easy for students to go to exactly where you want them. Copy any of the codes on this page and use them in your own documents or print out all the codes (links at top of page) to cut-out, laminate, physically cut and paste etc. them into your worksheets, lesson plans or scheme of work.

These resources are based around  slides with a short caption than can be viewed as a show or individually via the QR codes.

Slide Pack

The codes link to individual clean and simple pages that are not part of the slide show so you can simplify the use of the resources.

Gentoo penguin

1 - Penguins waddle when they walk - this saves them energy because they are tall with short legs.

Adelie penguin

2 - Penguins move fastest on snow and ice by "tobogganing" - they lie on their front and push themselves with their feet, they can go faster than you can run.

3 - Penguins have strong claws and strong short legs, these grip onto slippery rocks or ice when they come out of the sea.

Emperor penguin

4 - Penguins pull their feet in close for streamlining when swimming, like an aircraft pulling in its wheels Penguins can stick a foot out as a water-brake, they can turn and head back where they came in 1/5th of a second.

Adelie penguin

5 - Penguin "wings" are adapted to be short, stiff flippers for "flying" in water. The elbow and wrist joints are fixed to give a rigid flipper for swimming underwater.

6 - Penguins collect air in their feathers by preening especially before going to sea, it insulates against the cold. This trapped air helps the penguin swim at top speed by releasing as tiny bubbles which reduce drag, very useful when escaping predators.

Gentoo penguin

7 - All penguins apart from King and Emperor penguins build a nest. They are a low pile of stones so if the temperature rises and snow melts, the nest is not flooded.

Emperor penguin

8 - Emperor and King penguin parents keep their egg and then the young chick on their feet, it is covered by a flap of skin called a brood pouch until they are large enough to keep themselves warm.

9 - Penguins often nest in large colonies which makes it easier to head out to sea together, this helps them fish for food better and avoid predators both in the sea and on land.

10 - Like other birds, penguins lay eggs which have to be kept warm all the time, the parents take it in turns to look after the egg or go to sea to feed.

11 - Chicks are fed on the nest by the parents until they are big enough to join a creche for protection against predators, this lets both parents to go to sea at the same time to catch more food.

Gentoo penguin

12 - Smaller penguins migrate north to escape the hard Antarctic winter, they return in the short summer to make the most of abundant food and rear their chicks.

Emperor penguin
13 - Emperor penguins form huddles to keep warm in the coldest weather, they take it in turns to be on the outside or in the middle!

Adelie penguin

14 - Penguins gather at the ice edge in groups before jumping in the sea. This confuses any predators that might be about and increases each penguins chance of survival.

Emperor penguin

15 - During a deep dive, a penguins' heart rate slows from 80-100 down to 20 beats per minute to let them dive for longer.

Picture credits: Penguin feet - eileenmak under creative commons, attribution 2.0 generic licence. / Preening penguin - Liam Quinn from Canada, under creative commons, attribution 2.0 share-alike licence.