Zoology: Flying Penguins

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Let us not launch the boat ...
Valued Senior Member
That's right. You read that correctly. Flying penguins.

Ain't it cool? Here, I'll say it again because I love putting those two words together: Flying penguins.

Adélie penguins take flight from King George Island in Antarctica. (Image credit: BBC via Telegraph)

The Telegraph reports on an upcoming BBC program, Miracles of Evolution:

The programme is being presented by ex-Monty Python star Terry Jones, who said: "We'd been watching the penguins and filming them for days, without a hint of what was to come.

"But then the weather took a turn for the worse. It was quite amazing. Rather than getting together in a huddle to protect themselves from the cold, they did something quite unexpected, that no other penguins can do."


A couple of things do strike me suspiciously, namely Terry Jones and the date. To the one, do Brits have April Fool's? (Really, I don't know the answer to that question.) And, to the other, the Beeb would appear to be playing along if this was a joke, noting that the Mirror is running pictures on its front page. Of course, that means the Mirror would likely be in on it, too.

So, yeah, this seems kind of real.

Adélie penguins migrate to South American rainforest. (Image credit: BBC via Telegraph)

So how cool is that? Penguin dreams and stranger things, indeed.


Midgley, Neil. "Flying penguins found by BBC programme". Telegraph. April 1, 2008. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/01/npenguin101.xml
Everyone knows that penguins don't fly to S.A., they always go to Hawaii! Better tanning there and the surf is always up! :D
OK, I watched the video. It's clearly CGI, but they're getting better. Soon we won't believe anything we see on tv (some don't now).
funny looking penguin EF.

I was waiting for that.
All that flying with little wings, That penguin is gonna be huffin' and puffin before long.
It is #12 on the list of April fools webjokes... I already posted this in the appropriate thread... The zoologist is played by a guy from Monthy Python...
I'm no physics expert but those wings look way to small to carry those fat assed birds.
You bet. Look at the size of an eagle's wings. Besides, penguins don't have flight feathers and they are what provides the aerodynamics that makes it possible to create lift. Their feathers are tiny.

I could believe penguins breaching like dolphins.
Soon we won't believe anything we see on tv (some don't now).
I can't believe some of the crap they put on TV, but I guess that's not saying quite the same thing. :)
Hook, line, and plummeting flightless bird

Yes, I bit. And I did so for three reasons. Those reasons are as follows:

• I really wanted it to be true.

• Much credit to the BBC for enlisting two newspapers (the Daily Telegraph and The Mirror) to help them with their prank. That "validation" of the story made the bait rather quite juicy.

• Disproportionate faith in the BBC: compared to what Americans produce, some of the BBC's real footage looks fake. Those familiar with the massive zoom shot of a migrating herd in the early minutes of the Planet Earth episode "Pole to Pole", or an incredible time-lapse of changing seasons might understand that we Americans get nothing on par with what the Beeb can do.​

Perhaps if I'd actually seen the Mirror article before I posted, I would have realized something was wrong. Their description of "flying penguins" differs from the Telegraph's, and sounds much more like a joke. But I only knew the Mirror was in because the Beeb included it in a roundup of daily headlines from the British press.

The fact of Terry Jones as a program host is not a cue in and of itself—we're expected to treat Michael Palin, for instance, as a legitimate travel program host—although the combination of who, when, and what should have been a stronger alarm bell than it was.

I wish I could say this was a performance art piece intended to teach a lesson about faith and zeal, but, alas, I did, truly, take the bait. Nonetheless, the lesson emerges. As I wrote elsewhere, before learning the tragic truth:

I did pause to think about [a hoax], and I decided that since I so adore the phrase “flying penguins”, I would take the chance of being thoroughly embarrassed on this one. It is, I realize, Terry Jones. To the other, though, the Beeb would seem to be in on it, as well as the Mirror. And that’s getting just a bit big for a press joke. And nature both is and isn’t surprising. It is surprising in the fact that it constantly surprises me. It isn’t surprising in the sense that at some point I should stop being surprised. In the end, the idea of flying penguins is more hilarious than unbelievable ....

.... I’ve been far more embarrassed in the past than I would be if I’m falling for a hoax about flying penguins. It would probably hurt more to have to accept that penguins really don’t fly.

(B.D.'s Last Refuge)

It is so much easier to believe what is quite clearly not if it's something you want to believe. That is the one bit of redemption I can find in this episode, that it is a demonstration of the power of faith in the face of the irrational.

And it's true. The greater sting is that penguins don't fly.

Life goes on. Somewhere, a childhood friend is weeping. Chin up, Opus. Chin up.
The black hole of your mind

Orleander said:

really? LMAO!!!!

I think it's rather funny that you needed to be told. Really, I thought about playing it off as part of the April Fool's joke, but it didn't seem worth it. Of course, with people as dense as yourself out there, perhaps I should reconsider that principle. Sliding toward singularity, are ye?
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