I'm a little Gentoo, short and stout.
Here are my wings, and my bright orange snout.
I live in the Antarctic, all about.
But if you kill my habitat, I'll fade out.
-- Gentoo penguin nursery rhyme
The Gentoo penguin belongs to a group of penguins known as the "Brush-tailed penguins", along with the Adelie and Chinstrap Penguins. The Gentoo penguin's scientific name is Pygoscelis papua
is the name of the specific group of penguins, and the word means 'elbow-legged'. Papua
refers to Papua New Guinea, although there are such Gentoo penguins anywhere near the place. The word Gentoo comes from the name of a group of Hindus who wore caps resembling the head stripe of the Gentoo penguin.
The Gentoo penguin consists of a small head, a rather large body, two wings, two legs/feet, a brush tail, and multiple vital organs.
On the head of the Gentoo penguin is their most recognizable mark - the white bonnet-like stripe, extending from eye to eye. Protruding from the front of the head is a mostly bright reddish-orange beak. The topmost section of the beak. The eyes are vertically centered on either side of the head, about a half-beak's length from the base of the beak.
About four fifths of the Gentoo penguin's body is white. The rest is black. The white underside protects the penguin from underwater predators1 while swimming, because such predators have difficulty discerning the white belly from reflections in the water. The whiteness of this section of the body is due to feather coloration, not excessive tobogganing2. Attached to the left and right sides of the body are two flat wings. The wings extend from their powerful shoulders to a few centimeters above their legs. With these wings, the Gentoo penguin can swim at rates up to 36km/h. The wings are black on the outside and white on the underside/armpit area.
Legs and tail
The legs are white-feathered from the hip to shortly after the knee, where skinned feet appear. The feet are bright orange, similar to the color of the beak. Between each of the three front toes is extra skin, giving the penguin greater surface area for propulsion in water.
Set on the lower back of the penguin is a group of long black feathers called a tail. The feathers are spread out in a brush-like fashion, hence the group's name "Brush-tailed penguins". This tail helps the penguin to steer while swimming under water, and stand while out of water.
Due to the freezing temperatures of the Antarctic regions, the Gentoo penguin keeps its organs on the inside of its body. This means that there are no means of identifying a penguin's sex without genetic testing.