All black penguin really stands out in a crowd

King Penguins

A waddle of King Penguins usually looks pretty homogeneous. Image from Flickr.

Standing out in a crowd can be tough – especially when everyone’s wearing the same uniform. One all-black penguin, though, seems to have been given the genetic gift of being able to really stand out in the crowd of King penguins on South Georgia island in the sub-Antarctic. Maybe this all black penguin will be next on the list for some enterprising filmmaker with funding from installment loans for people with bad credit to feature at Sundance.

All black penguin really stands out

Andrew Evans, an author who traveled 10,000 miles by bus, snapped the now-famous picture of this all-black penguin while he was with a group of Lindblad Expeditions tourists. On the National Geographic Blog, he tells the story:

He looked like a single black king moving across a chessboard of so many white pawns. Our first glimpse was puzzling until we drew closer and realized that this was not some other bird but indeed another penguin of a different color.

Melanism caused all black penguin’s coloring

The all-black penguin that Andrew Evan’s group saw is very unique, and has been documented only a handful of times in King penguins on South Georgia island. The condition is called “melanism” – and simply means that the animal’s skin, fur, or feathers have unusually dark pigmentation. Melanism is the opposite of albinism – or albino coloring. In some species, such as leopards, up to 50% of the population has melanism – we know these dark leopards most often as black panthers.

The all black penguin seems healthy

According to both Andrew’s report and the report of Ted Cheeseman, this all-black penguin seems to be both happy and healthy. He is a fairly large penguin, and appears to interact with the other penguins well. Some scientists are waiting excitedly to see if this King penguin will have any little penguins, and if his unusual coloring is genetically passed onto them. Who knows, some may start looking into cash advance loans to camp out on South Georgia until he does.

All black penguin accepted by its peers

Despite the fact that this all black penguin seems to have dressed down at this black-tie party, the other penguins seem to have accepted him into their waddle. At times, animals have been known to pressure or attack members of their groups that are “too different” for the group to safely include them. However, the all-black penguin seems to have escaped this fate. Perhaps, like in Happy Feet, this little guy will prove that being just a little bit (or a lot) different can be a good thing.

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