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The best known and best loved of all Antarctic wildlife is the penguin, only four species of which breed on the Antarctic continent itself, the Emperor, the Chinstrap, the Adelie and the Gentoo, although several other species such as the King Penguin can be found within the arctic region.

These flightless birds are believed to have evolved some 50 million years ago from flying birds similar to the Stormy Petrel. Some of the species spend as much as 75% of their lives in the ocean, but all of them return to Antarctica to breed. Comfortable cruising along at a speed of around 5 mph (8 km/h), some are able to travel in short bursts at 7 mph (12 km/h).

Antarctica, covered in ice over one mile thick, is the coldest and windiest continent on earth with sub-zero temperatures of –80 degrees below zero in the winter months of June and July, with powerful winds creating clouds, ground blizzards and fog. It is small wonder then that the popular image of a penguin is of a black and white bird with a bright red scarf around its throat.

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