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  • Introduction
  • Respiration
  • Blood circulation
  • Digestion
  • Skeleton

Here you can see how a penguin looks inside.

humboldt in sneeuw
Choose a specific system on the tabs above to open the page.
The first time it will not look smooth because it needs time to load (each picture is about 200Kb), so be patient. If you want to repeat it, choose another tab and then go back.
I added a short explanation too.

All the animated gifs are made by me and may not be used without prior permission.
A bird has no diaphragm, like humans or mammals. They have a constant stream of air through several air sacs. A penguin breaths through his abdomen. By extension of it, air is inhaled. This air flows through the lungs directly in the posterior air sacs. By exhalation that air flows to the bronchi (where transfer from oxygen takes place). During the second inhalation, this all happens again, but simultaneously the air, still in the lungs, flows further to the asterior air sacs. By the second exhalation this air moves further to the interclavicular sac and is through the trachea exhaled again. Penguins have a kind of circular respiration, with a constant air flow.

Basically the picture says all of it.
A penguin has a heart (muscle), just as humans and mammals, which pumps the blood through the entire body and delivers the necessary oxygen. This heart has 4 chambers, making sure that oxygen-rich blood is separated from the oxygen-poor blood. The blood circulates through the arteries (transport supply of oxygen-rich blood) and veins (removal of oxygen-poor blood).
This circulation has an important role for the maintaining of the body-temperature.
The kidneys have (beside the excretion function) a crucial role for the regulation of blood volume, composition, pressure and for the hormone levels.

What a penguin eats, you can find under Biology - Food.
Penguins (and other seabirds) DO NOT have a crop!! In fact, not every bird species has one. Crops are mainly found in seed-eating birds. Penguins have an unusually long oesophagus because their stomach is located so low in their bodies, virtually between their knees. The stomach is a big muscular bag that has a glandular lining in the top part (equivalent to the proventriculus) and a folded, muscular part in the bottom. Occasionally penguins swallow little pebbles that might aid their digestion of fish, squid and crustaceans.

While a penguin has no teeth, the food goes directly to the stomach. Here it is stored either for regurgitation as food for the chicks or for digestion.
The liver and pancreas produce the necessary elements to aid the digestion. The pancreatic juice delivers, among other functions, bicarbonates for the regulation of the acidity in the stomach and supplies enzymes for digestion. From here the almost digested food goes to the intestines, where all rest-material are extracted and this leaves the body through the cloaca.

Recent research by French scientists has shown that king penguins, for example, can adjust the PH (acidity) of their stomach to prevent rapid digestions. Another study, also by French scientists, showed that king penguins use bacteria in their stomachs that prevent the food from digestion!

Here you need no explanation. I didn't name each bone on the picture, as if I could ;-) , to avoid that it would be unclear.
One special fact should be noticed: When you look at the sternum, you see that it is unusually large. Because all birds fly (a penguin "flies" through the water), they need very powerful pectoralis muscles. Those muscles are attached on that sternum, so it's only natural that it is so large.
It is also very clearly visible on the picture, that a penguin does have knees.

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