By Emma Bryce, Live Science Contributor | February 14, 2019 06:31am ET
They've become the stars of many a nature documentary and cartoon, beloved for their fluffiness and impeccable waddle. Yet, when it comes to breeding, you might say that have drawn the evolutionary short straw. As if life weren't already tough enough in the mostly frigid Antarctic landscape they inhabit, these birds also have to breed in the dead of winter, when they must shield their eggs from snow and roaring winds, lest the eggs turn into ice cubes.
This week's episode of follows a colony of emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) as they contend with this inhospitable climate to keep their fragile eggs alive.
The emperor is actually the only penguin species that follows the risky strategy of breeding solely in the winter, which they do in huge colonies of several thousand birds. While the female birds to replenish themselves with fish after each one lays an enormous egg, the males stay behind and each incubate an egg as temperatures grow increasingly frigid on the flat sheet ice where they live. [ ]