Run for cover! The apocalypse must be happening, right? Mutated penguins are taking over the world! I told you so. Not really. But this penguin (let’s call him Mumble) took the dive and decided that it was okay to be different after all. Even if he didn’t have a HeartSong, he’d still dress up in all black and rock out.
Mumble is a King Penguin (the second largest species of penguin existing) who lives on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia and is affected by a condition known as melanism. Wait. What in the world is melanism? Some freaky mutation?
Melanism is basically the opposite of albinism, and is characterized by the development of dark pigment in the skin. In the animal kingdom, melanism is usually spotted in such animals as large cats (think jaguars), squirrels, and coral snakes (yikes).
Did you ever think you’d see an all black penguin, though? Neither did I. Well, now you can tell your friends you have. Just don’t tell them that he’s trying to take over the world. They might have you confined in a fluffy all-white room.
Andrew Evans, contributing editor to National Geographic Magazine, spotted Mumble doing his thing while on a bus trip to Antarctica. (I know, right? Who would’ve thought they had those? I’ve got to go on one.) He managed to capture the stylish fellow on camera.
It’s not uncommon for penguins to have mutations in their feathering, but according to National Geographic, these usually manifest as partial variations in their coloring. Mumble, with his all-black coat, is “one in a zillion,” in the opinion of Dr. Alan Baker, an ornithologist at the Royal Ontario Museum.
Oh yeah. An ornithologist is someone who studies birds for a living. Pretty neat, huh?
Even though birds do sometimes have melanin deposits in random spots on their bodies, it’s very rare to see the melanin covering their entire chest area. If Mumble were to find a partner who also carried the gene for melanism, they could start a whole new species of penguin.
Who else thinks he should do that? After all, black is the new black, right?