Fortunately, black is timeless, but who knows what the future holds for this penguin?
BBC camera teams working on the fantastic nature series Dynasties got some never-before-seen video of a penguin with a black belly in a sea of white, like a rebel at a white tie affair, amid a sea of white.
Melanism is an uncommon genetic abnormality that causes the skin, fur, and feathers of the penguin in question to turn black owing to a high concentration of the pigment melanin. Albinism, which is caused by a lack of pigment, is the polar opposite of this condition.
“Is this the world’s rarest penguin?” In the video, BBC America poses the question. Yes, it’s possible. While partial melanism has been observed in other penguin species such as the Adelie, chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni, and royal, it appears to be more common in King penguins. It’s never been observed in emperor penguins before, as far as we know, and all-black penguins are already uncommon.
Considerably partial melanism might be as unusual as one in a quarter million, according to scientists, and full melanism is likely to be even rarer due to the lack of record and scientific research of all-black penguins.
The film claims that “he or she might be the sole one of its type.”
Emperors have black heads and wings, gray backs, and white bellies, with yellow-orange patterns around their necks. This penguin, which was sighted in Antarctica when the Dynasties crew was filming the Emperor episode, is nearly totally black, with the exception of a patch of white on its breast and wing tips, and a splash of yellow around its neck.
It can be advantageous for certain animals to stand out from the crowd (like for this cow, for example). However, for the most majority of them, it may be disastrous.
For starters, a mutation like melanism makes animals more visible to predators. Not just because it is more noticeable on the ice, but also because penguins’ white bellies help them blend in with the light from the surface, making them inconspicuous to predators swimming below.
Nonetheless, as the BBC points out, this particular species has fared well, having reached maturity.
In fact, the penguin appears to be in good health in the clip. However, when huddling for warmth with the other penguins, it appeared to display symptoms of seeking for a mate while being videotaped among hundreds of its besuited compatriots.
And now for the second point: finding a mate must be quite difficult since all other penguins are unique, making this specimen the world’s loneliest penguin.