QUOTE: The Evolution Underground [Chapter 4]

The Evolution Underground: Burrows, Bunkers, and the Marvelous Subterranean World Beneath our Feet - Anthony J. Martin

"If too many documentary films and cartoons about the 1.4-meter (4.5-foot) tall emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) of Antarctica have colored your perception of penguins, fairy penguins will surprise you, and in a good way. Once they stand up on a beach, their overwhelming cuteness may very well compel you to babble an infantile string of nonsensical monosyllables while dissolving into a puddle of goo. First of all, these are the smallest of penguins, with adults reaching about 30 centimeters (12 inches), one third the height of the Star Wars droid R2D2. Second, their backs are composed of nearly iridescent-blue feathers, their bellies are white, and their cheeks have just a hint of blush, a plumage contrasting with that of the severe black-and-white tuxedo outfits worn by their southernmost relatives.


Further adding to their charm, fairy penguins hold their thin black wings out from their sides as they walk with webbed feet, looking as if they are performing a balancing act; which in effect they are, because they would easily topple over at the slightest push. (Please don’t do this, though. Remember: overwhelming cuteness.) All of these traits are endearing enough in any given penguin, but when multiplied by hundreds, all of them baby-stepping out of the surf together and looking like one big happy family, it is enough to elicit squeaks and squeals from even the most hardened anti-penguin cynics. No wonder, then, that a longtime fairy penguin colony on the seashore of Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia, has become a huge tourist attraction. Throughout each year, hundreds of thousands of fellow biped admirers gather nightly to watch the hundreds of these birds ambling up the beach in a “penguin parade.”"

From:  The Evolution Underground by Anthony J. Martin