African Penguin Research Paper

Topics: Cape Town, African Penguin, Penguin Pages: 7 (2561 words) Published: December 19, 2012
This research paper contains facts about the African Penguin. I obtained these facts through several websites regarding this animal and some reports written by people who study them for a living. This paper discusses how the African Penguin arrived to Africa, its characteristics and body features regarding its ability to swim underwater. It also talks about how it spends most of its life and how they mate and breed. These penguins have a hard life, they have many predators and in this paper you will get to see who these predators are; they have sea predators and land predators as well. The African Penguin is faced with many threats and most of them are our, humans, fault. But in order to help this species survive, there are many conservation plans/programs to help protect these unique animals. There were once more than 1.2 million Penguins in number in 1930 but sadly now there’s only about 170,000 left and 21,000 in breeding.

The African Penguin also known as the Black Footed Penguin is on the endangered species list and it currently resides on the south-western coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The major threats to these penguins are global warming, tourism, fishing, and oil spills; right now there are many conservation efforts all over the world to try and help these poor animals. The African Penguin has characteristics that make it possible for them to swim in the ocean and fish and many other things. Like every other animal in the middle of a food chain these penguins have predators and they have to watch their backs when they're on land and in the ocean. They usually spend their time at sea hunting for food or they form colonies on the rocky shores when they are breeding.

Its History and Its Habitat
It wasn’t easy for penguins to settle in Africa, they came and went and then came back. The first penguins that settled Africa millions of years ago all went extinct. But the penguins didn’t give up. They came back, pushed there by ocean currents, and repopulated the African coasts. Africa has always been the only continent in the Southern Hemisphere without any penguin inhabitants. The first penguins only came to Africa 30 million years after they had first spread to Australia, Antarctica and South America. Today, only the African Penguin, also called the Black footed Penguin, lives in Africa. But African penguin diversity wasn’t always this low. Paleontologists have unearthed the fossil remains of four more species of penguin over the past few decades. All of these ancient penguins are extinct today. Since it’s not common there are only two possible explanations for the presence of ancient and modern penguins in Africa. Either different species of penguin migrated to Africa on separate occasions, or they all descend from a single group of penguins that arrived in Africa a long time ago. The last scenario is known as an endemic or adaptive radiation. Radiations often happen when a single species inhabits an island or continent. The descendants of this species adapt to different places and diverge into new families. A famous example of this scenario would be Darwin’s finches that colonized the Galapagos and evolved beaks of different shapes, or the lemurs of Madagascar that evolved into creatures the size of mice and gorillas. Which explanation is closest to actual penguin history, depends on the shape of the penguin family tree. For example, if all African penguins are closer related to each other than they are to other penguins, this would be evidence for an endemic radiation. If, on the other hand, the closest relatives of African penguins all live outside of Africa, it is more likely that they settled Africa multiple times. Of the extinct African penguins, only the skeletons of the large Nucleornis insolitus and smaller Inguza demersus were complete enough to be included in this analysis....
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