What adaptations do penguins have to survive in Antarctica?

Dr Tom Hart explains how penguin feathers have evolved to allow penguins to survive in a cold environment.

One of the ways penguins keep warm is by having a very waterproof outer feather and a dry, downy, warm inner part of the feather.

It’s a little like having a waterproof jacket with a warm inner layer.

Penguin feathers are overlaid and waterproofed and there is air trapped underneath, even when they are diving - and that helps to keep them warm.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Penguin Watchers.

Teacher Notes

In small groups, pupils could look at other animals and how they may have adapted to their environments.

How different do they look or act now to their ancestors?

Can they name species that haven't adapted and therefore don't exist anymore?

With climate change and the impact of humans can they think of any animals that may need to adapt in the future in order to survive?

Though we naturally think of penguins living in cold regions, there are penguins that live in warmer climates.

In small groups, pupils could look at how the penguin keeps warm.

How is this different to how they can keep their bodies warm in cold climates?

What problems may they have when it is very cold?

Do the penguins and other wildlife have issues with the cold?

Curriculum Notes

This short film will be relevant for teaching climate change and animals and their habitats at Key Stage 2 and Second Level in primary schools in the UK.

More from The Penguin Watchers

How climate change is affecting penguins and their habitat
Why is Antarctica so important in measuring climate change?