Did You Know Penguins Have Knees?

For real.

1. Penguins are not known for their walking ability.

2. They tend not to be particularly graceful on land.


3. So you’d be forgiven for thinking their legs are just little stumpy things.

4. But it turns out they do in fact have knees.

Not that you would know it from looking at them waddle.

5. Exhibit A:

New England Aquarium / Via penguins.neaq.org

6. Exhibit B:

New England Aquarium / Via penguins.neaq.org

This image shows a penguin’s legs bent at the knee.

A penguin’s leg is made up of four bones: a short femur, a knee, a tibia, and a fibula. Their legs just look short and stubby because feathers cover the top parts.

Walking has a higher energetic cost for penguins than it does for most birds. Scientists think this came about as a compromise between movement on land and in water.

7. They make up for all the waddling by being complete naturals in the water.

Seeing that penguins spend most of their lives in the sea, it makes sense for them to be adapted for swimming.

8. And it looks like those knees come in pretty handy when you just can’t be bothered to walk any more, too.

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Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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