National Geographic contributing editor, Andrew Evans was almost at the end or his six-week epic bus journey from Washington D.C. to Antarctica, when he spotted something very unusual - An all black King Penguin waddling along with a group of normal-looking penguins, at Fortuna Bay on the Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia.
At first Andrew thought it was a different animal hanging out with the black-and-white flightless birds. However, upon getting closer, he realized that it was like any other King Penguin - except without the 'tuxedo' suit!
While some of Andrew's co-passengers recalled seeing this before, the sight is extremely unusual. Hugh Ross an expedition leader with Cheeseman's Ecology Safaris in California was one the other lucky ones to spot it in 2006 at the same location, making us wonder, if it was the same penguin!
Dr. Allen Baker, an ornithologist (bird expert) and professor of Environmental and Evolutionary Studies at the University of Toronto believes that this kind of mutation is a one in a zillion occurrence!
The reason it is so unusual is because the penguin is all black. Most skin mutations occur when the color pigment is missing from where it is supposed to be - rendering the animal colorless, as was the case in the albino deer and hedgehog, that we wrote about earlier.
Dr. Allen says that pigments present where they are not supposed to be - in this case the black showing up where the penguin should have no pigment at all, is almost unheard of.
Mr. Evans said that while the humans all noticed the difference in color, none of the King Penguin's cohorts seemed to think there was anything 'odd' about him - A trait we all could all adopt from the animal world.
Hot Off The Presses!
One of our readers just sent us a notification (www.aad.gov.au/default.asp) of yet another black penguin that was spotted last month at Sandy Bay on the Macquarie Islands, in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica. How exciting! Thanks Nolte!
If any of you know of any other sighting, please let us know by adding your comments below!