When it comes to the color of penguins’ feathers, the issue is not black and white. For years, many of us thought that penguins always have black and white feathers. In fact, other than their lack of flight, it's probably their most defining characteristic. If someone drew you a picture of a bird and made a point of coloring it black and white, you would assume they were trying to draw a penguin. While this feather pattern is true the vast majority of the time, there is a rare exception that has to be seen to be believed.
While traveling the Lindblad region of Antarctica, a group of explorers came across a rare "blonde" penguin that the Internet has absolutely fallen in love with. While "blonde" is not the official scientific term, it's the best adjective we've come up with for this unique specimen.
This little guy is an otherwise normal chinstrap penguin, but its blonde coat has made it the talk of the iceberg. Its feathers are a direct result of something called "isabellinism," a mutation that dilutes the pigment in its feathers. This is different than albinism, which means that no melanin is produced throughout the animal's entire body. Here, the melanin is prevented from being produced in the feathers only.
Even though this penguin is different, it doesn't seem to be having any trouble fitting in with the rest of the colony. Check out the pictures below for an up-close look at this awesome bird.
Everyone thinks that all penguins are black and white, but that's far from true. While most penguins look like this, there is a rare penguin every once in a while whose feathers are a beautiful shade of blonde.
National Geographic was leading a cruise through Antarctica when tourists and explorers spotted this rare penguin on one of the South Shetland Islands. At first glance, the bird seems like it's albino, but scientists knew that the explanation was a little more complicated than that. P. Dee Boersma, a penguin expert at the University of Washington, said that "though the penguin looks like an albino, the bird actually appears to have isabellinism."
As you can see, there is still some color present in its feathers, whereas an albino penguin would be entirely white. Since its mutation prevents melanin from being produced in the feathers, the result is "a 'uniform lightening' of a bird's dark colors, turning the animal a grayish yellow or pale brown," said a study on isabellinism.
This penguin looks different, and it's not afraid to let the world know.
Boersma also said that “many species of penguins have a few rare individuals with this color pattern.”
Considering how rare these penguins are, we're just glad that we got to see one captured on film.