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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Specimen of the Week: Week Sixteen

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 30 January 2012

Scary MonkeySo far in the specimen of the week, we have looked at a wide range of animals from across the zoological spectrum. We have seen invertebrates that look like flowers, fish that look like fisherman, monkeys that look like spiders. What we have, however, is a lack of feathered fun. Not one to discriminate or (purposefully) disappoint, this week’s specimen of the week is therefore one of our coolest (there’s a clue) feathery friends:




1) There are 17 species of penguin ranging in size from the largest species; the emperor penguin, to the smallest species, cunningly named the ‘little penguin’. Of the 17 different penguins, 41% of them constitute species of crested penguin.


Rockhopper penguin. One of the seven species of crested penguin

Rockhopper penguin. One of the seven species of crested penguin

2) The common name; ‘crested’ penguin, comes from the dazzlingly yellow ‘eyebrow’ feathers that give the crested penguins  their striking look (see image right).


3) All species of crested penguin are listed by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as either vulnerable or endangered.


4) Although all seven species of crested penguin have, by definition, crests, the suggestively named erect-crested penguin is the only one to posses the special talent of being able to raise and lower its yellow crest feathers at will.


Crested penguin at the Grant Museum of Zoology

Crested penguin at the Grant Museum of Zoology. LDUCZ-Y53

5)  Male crested penguins have many interesting methods of gaining a female’s attention. They greet each other with an open bill, vigorously nod their heads up and down.  If a male wants to fight, he will begin by growling and barking at his opponent. If this doesn’t settle the dispute, he will bite at the other penguin whilst slapping him with his flipper.

We have two fully articulated crested penguin skeletons in the museum, why not come down for a visit and choose your favourite.

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