UPDATE: Andrew Evans gives us his report from the field after the jump.
SECOND UPDATE: There’s been more black penguin sightings by our readers.
THIRD UPDATE: Watch a video of the penguin.

black-penguin-resize.jpg When Andrew Evans sent us this photo of a rare melanistic penguin that he spotted during his travels, I became intrigued. So I decided to call up Dr. Allan Baker, an ornithologist and professor of Environmental and Evolutionary Studies at the University of Toronto and head of the Department of Natural History at the Royal Ontario Museum, to learn more about melanism in birds. I got him on the line before he had the chance to look at the photos, and suffice it to say he was slightly flabbergasted at what he saw: “Wow. That looks so bizarre I can’t even believe it. Wow,” was his first response. Then he made me swear on a stack of National Geographic magazines that the image was real.

“Well that is astonishing,” he said. “I’ve never ever seen that before. It’s a one in a zillion kind of mutation somewhere. The animal has lost control of its pigmentation patterns. Presumably it’s some kind of mutation.” He explained that typically, melanistic birds of all species will have white spots where melanin pigmentation has failed to color the feathers. But it’s extremely rare for melanin deposits to occur where they’re not normally located, as genes control those pathways (in this case, in the breast feathers of the king penguin). After looking through several texts, he ruled out the potential for it to be a hybrid and said that it’s closer in coloring to the Little Blue penguin. “But look at the size of those legs,” he added, “It’s an absolute monster.”

Many thanks to Dr. Baker for taking the time to look at the photos.

Andrew Evans reports from the boat…

He looked like a single black king moving across a chessboard of so many white pawns. Our first glimpse was puzzling until we drew closer and realized that this was not some other bird but indeed another penguin of a different color.

Our group from Lindblad Expeditions spotted this very unique bird at Fortuna Bay on the subantarctic island of South Georgia. Out of several thousand pairs of king penguins, this was the only individual that was entirely black although earlier in the morning I had spotted another that showed muted coloration. Recent science papers (PDF) show that the trait has been documented only a handful of times in South Georgia. Some fellow travelers recall seeing a melanistic penguin at St. Andrew’s Bay, also on South Georgia.

Melanism is merely the dark pigmentation of skin, fur–or in this case, feathers. The unique trait derives from increased melanin in the body. Genes may play a role, but so might other factors. While melanism is common in many different animal species (e.g. Washington, D.C. is famous for its melanistic squirrels), the trait is extremely rare in penguins. All-black penguins are so rare there is practically no research on the subject–biologists guess that perhaps one in every quarter million of penguins shows evidence of at least partial melanism, whereas the penguin we saw appears to be almost entirely (if not entirely) melanistic.

So far, king penguins represent the most documented cases of melanism, though there is evidence of partial melanism appearing in other penguin species, namely Adélie, chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and royal penguins.

Observing this black penguin waddle across South Georgia’s black sand beach revealed no different behavior than that of his fellow penguins. In fact, he seemed to mix well. Regarding feeding and mating behavior there is no real way to tell, but I do know that we were all fascinated by his presence and wished him the best for the coming winter season.

Andrew Evans traveled 10,000 miles–by bus–from Washington D.C. to Antarctica for National Geographic Traveler and has tweeted about his travels at @Bus2Antarctica. Want more? Follow the map of his journey, bookmark all of his blog posts, watch videos, and get the full story on the project here.

Photo: Andrew Evans

Comments

  1. […] When a National Geographic photographer held steer of one in 2010, an ornithologist called it a “one-in-a-zillion kind of mutation.” This penguin has melanism—the over-production of melanin, a colouring that colors skin. Far […]

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    So they attribute this Penguin’s coloring to Melanism – Interesting!

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    June 26, 2010, 8:09 am

    The article in this explained that typically, melanistic birds of all species will have white spots where melanin pigmentation has failed to color the feathers. But it’s extremely rare for melanin deposits to occur where they’re not normally located, as genes control those pathways. Thanks for sharing the info.

  114. John
    June 24, 2010, 10:02 am

    Good Heavens, people…National Geographic does not fake photos. This is not The Enquirer!
    Their public image as a reliable resource of information is a valuable asset.
    Краник

  115. Dinnel
    June 23, 2010, 7:34 am

    I don’t know why the Prof in the article was flabbergasted.
    Animals have the same body chemistry to a great extent as humans so they are likely to suffer pigmentation patterns. Thanks Краник

  116. Geld verdienen mit Homepage
    June 20, 2010, 7:17 pm

    Pretty cool! This could be the start of the evolution of a whole new species of penguins!

  117. National Lottery
    June 19, 2010, 4:01 pm

    Observing this black penguin waddle across South Georgia’s black sand beach revealed no different behaviour than that of his fellow penguins. In fact, he seemed to mix well,” he wrote on a National Geographic blog.

  118. Spanish Lottery
    June 19, 2010, 3:56 pm

    Observing this black penguin waddle across South Georgia’s black sand beach revealed no different behavior than that of his fellow penguins. In fact, he seemed to mix well. Regarding feeding and mating behavior there is no real way to tell, but I do know that we were all fascinated by his presence and wished him the best for the coming winter season

  119. mystery shopping
    June 15, 2010, 11:57 am

    To me, this photo doesn’t look Photoshopped. I don’t see anything in it, or the other three pictures of the black penguin to indicate Photoshopping!I tried putting up a comment with links to the other photos, but it doesn’t ever show up. I am guessing that’s because I put links in it.

  120. dependable auto shippers
    June 12, 2010, 11:00 am

    The National Geographic Channel is the home for the best animals that i like to discuss about thanks for sharing the info.

  121. online games
    June 10, 2010, 10:08 pm

    Ubelievable , Hard to believe , even with the photo! Dr. Baker was quoted as saying, “The animal has lost control of its pigmentation patterns.” Do any animals have control of their own pigmentation?! Humans putting themselves in tanning booths doesn’t count.

  122. euromillions
    June 10, 2010, 9:43 pm

    Sorry to say but I think this is a photoshop job, but on the other hand, being all black would keep the fella warmer – as long as it was getting sun. This could be one of those genetic mutations that changes an entire species for the better , of its survival of course .

  123. Dress Up Games
    June 10, 2010, 1:05 pm

    This is just a great article, excatly what explaines everything about the wild life on our planet.

  124. Massages in Toronto
    June 6, 2010, 12:10 am

    The unique trait derives from increased melanin in the body. Genes may play a major role here. Thanks for sharing.

  125. Let me google that for you
    June 5, 2010, 8:09 pm

    An alarming trend is spreading across the web and infecting content like a virus. Yes people, I’m talking about The Jump, and more specifically, its cursed accompanying phase More after the jump. Just. Stop. It.

  126. online live stream
    June 5, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Very interesting to see a black penguin, my only thought is that it’s mutation is somehow related to the pollution of their habitat. It makes me think that such cases may even appear in humans if we keep damaging our environment constantly .

  127. Kelowna Hotels
    June 5, 2010, 12:04 pm

    What a cool looking black penguin, looks like a real picture to me. No photoshop editing that I could find.

  128. refinance mortgage rates
    June 4, 2010, 1:48 pm

    That is unbelievable … a black penguin! I wonder if global climate change has anything to do with increased melanin in penguins.

  129. Masela Kone
    June 2, 2010, 7:07 pm

    This is a great shot. This penquin is so amazing. Something tells me that he is not the only one with an all black/dark blue “suit” either way it was nice of him to be at the right place and the right time for this photo to take place.
    SEO

  130. Bearing
    June 1, 2010, 9:09 pm

    It’s amazing, I didn’t know penguin has black color

  131. Acuvue Oasys
    May 31, 2010, 10:38 am

    I love that black penguin. Sooo cute!

  132. Best Web Hosting
    May 31, 2010, 7:37 am

    Penguins are indeed beauty .. by the way thanks for the video

  133. girl games
    May 30, 2010, 12:28 pm

    That is amazing. I didn’t know there is a black penguin

  134. chrise
    May 29, 2010, 5:39 pm

    More than anything, this is a symptom of climate change and the earlier we stop dithering the more we will save ourselves the human and invaluable biodiversity such as the penguins.

  135. jonahClint
    May 19, 2010, 12:29 pm

    Although very interesting to see a black penguin, my only thought is that it’s mutation is somehow related to the pollution of their habitat. It makes me think that such cases may even appear in humans if we keep damaging our environment.Phoenix Dj

  136. Jefferson
    May 13, 2010, 6:29 am

    Was reading up, it is estimated that about one in every 250,000 penguins shows evidence of the condition – but few are as completely black as the one pictured here. Melanism is, however, common in many other species.
    From Encyclopaedia Britannica: the condition of the darkness in an animal’s skin, feathers, or fur is acquired by populations living in an industrial region where the environment is soot-darkened. It can be gene related. It does, however, mean that the probability (bargain prawn) that its members will survive and reproduce is significantly enhanced overall.
    Does anyone know why this might be the case?

  137. Cathy
    May 8, 2010, 6:29 pm

    I just want to hug this penguin (ok all penguins) it is so adorable… thank you National Geographics! Now to go read Andrew Evens blog!

  138. Daniel
    May 4, 2010, 3:40 am

    That penguin looks indeed a little strange.

  139. kay-kay
    April 9, 2010, 3:38 pm

    I want IT! it is sooooo……. cute!

  140. Paul
    March 19, 2010, 9:45 am

    I’ve been professionally retouching pictures with Photoshop for fifteen years. I’d love to see some clown try to duplicate the effort it would take to fake this photo.
    The day National Geographic doesn’t fact-check a sighting such as this is the day hell freezes over.

  141. Hannah
    March 17, 2010, 11:53 pm

    This is just a symptom of global warming. All the ice white color is melting off the front and revealing the true feather color beneath.

  142. JRE
    March 15, 2010, 3:32 pm

    Looks like a man i a penguin suit to me :P

  143. Phil
    March 13, 2010, 3:35 am

    Interesting, BUT the phrase “After the Jump” has no place on the internet.
    More After The Jump
    19 October 2005
    An alarming trend is spreading across the web and infecting content like a virus. Yes people, I’m talking about The Jump, and more specifically, its cursed accompanying phase More after the jump. Just. Stop. It.
    http://allinthehead.com/retro/272/more-after-the-jump

  144. enrolled agent
    March 13, 2010, 12:06 am

    Wow. He’s really all black. This is the first time I saw an all-black penguin. Any particular reason why he is black all over? Also, I just noticed that their background isn’t icy enough… And I thought penguins thrive on ice…

  145. Mr_binks
    March 12, 2010, 9:33 pm

    He’ll never get married.

  146. Jose Shema
    March 12, 2010, 7:51 pm

    I bet it voted for Obama.

  147. Jeff K.
    March 12, 2010, 1:51 pm

    Um, have any of the theorists considered that this odd black emperor penguin has simply retained the coloration of a young bird? By mutation or hormonal cause, a case of neoteny?
    Have a look at photos of young emperors with all that melanistic down which is later shed during maturation. This bird seems to have had the melanin switch left in the “on” position when its sleek adult plumage grew in.
    Ockham Rules.

  148. SFJ
    March 12, 2010, 9:35 am

    Well I hope that all of the “this is definitely photoshop” jerks above will take a look at the comments from Jake Richter, Lisa Brossia, Femke Wolfert and others who have actually seen the penguin (or another extremely rare black one at any rate) with their own eyes. It’s not necessary to be cynical about everything you see on the web folks, even in these cynical times.

  149. ramy
    March 12, 2010, 3:21 am

    well, i think its not a strage thing that happend. it is one of the miricals of ALMIGHTY ALLAH. thanks to nationla geographic to find such things.

  150. cybersherrie
    March 12, 2010, 12:29 am

    Does there appear to be a small white corner on his neck in the upper left? did he get any other photos at any other angles of this? would love to see all the sides of him. intriguing

  151. Ren
    March 11, 2010, 11:23 pm

    So adorable i hope they make a movie about them and i will watch it. I love all animals thanks national geographic.

  152. Rhonda Spencer
    March 11, 2010, 7:00 pm

    Melanism is an interesting trait, it is seen in many different species, I have no doubt it could happen to penguins. I have seen melanism in Red-Eared Slider Turtles- http://www.rhondaspencer.com/index.php?showimage=71 why not penguins?

  153. Candice
    March 11, 2010, 6:57 pm

    flickr Melanistic King Penguin.. there are a couple shots from 2005.

  154. Lisa Brossia
    March 11, 2010, 6:56 pm

    HE is so cute! I saw him in January 2007 on my of my trips while I was down there for 2 months. I hope they leave him alone!!

  155. Jake Richter
    March 11, 2010, 5:40 pm

    He’s real. We were on the same trip that Andrew was on. My daughter got some great pictures. Click on my name above to see some of them.

  156. sweety9997
    March 11, 2010, 5:35 pm

    well mr jobloss i think your a buthole

  157. Cindy
    March 11, 2010, 5:07 pm

    I sure hope they leave this gorgeous guy alone and don’t take him away for research.

  158. Patrick
    March 11, 2010, 3:15 pm

    He’s probably just covered in oil.

  159. gomer
    March 11, 2010, 3:04 pm

    this all black penguins would be exceedingly rare. They make more easier targets in the ocean because they would be more visible to predators who are swimming from below them (white front side will blend in with the sunlight and reflection of the water better than dark color).

  160. Femke Wolfert
    March 11, 2010, 1:42 pm

    We where onboard of the Plancius (Oceanwide Expeditions) and visted St Andrews on 13 February 2010. We also saw this special King penguin.
    So for those who think it’s a shopped picture, book a trip and check it yourself!

  161. Jim Buch
    March 11, 2010, 12:31 pm

    My wife and I saw a black King penguin at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island while on a November 2009 cruise aboard the Prince Albert II. He(s) looks just like the one in the photo above and yes, I took several pictures of this interesting bird.

  162. AB
    March 11, 2010, 10:22 am

    This is a great shot. LOL @ the comment about this being the Johnny Cash of penguins. He does look super cool!
    Congrats on the photo.

  163. jdmimic
    March 11, 2010, 9:58 am

    To the person who suggested melanocytic nevus: that may be possible, but it appears to me to be more likely a genetic variant, similar to the variant that causes black panthers that are seen in jaguars and leopards. In the cats, this variation can be an advantage, although in a penguin it would be a serious liability, which is most likely why it is very rare. The fact that a penguin can reach the age of this one is quite remarkable.
    As to the people claiming it is a fake, it makes little sense for this to be a fake. Black penguins do exist, just like albino penguins, but they are very rare so getting a photo of one is a remarkable stroke of luck, but not inconceivable.
    It always amazes me the remarkable capacity for people to either lie for no other point but self amusement or claim fake to anything they’ve never seen before.

  164. nice shot
    March 11, 2010, 9:50 am

    This independently taken shot from 2006 shows him with a gravid female. I wonder if it is the same female in this pic? http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/blogs/intelligenttravel/2010/03/more-black-penguin-sightings.html

  165. BIG D 63
    March 11, 2010, 8:46 am

    I DONT KNOW WHY EVERY ONE IS SAYING THAT ITS A MUTATION TO ME HE IS PERFECT BUT AS YOU KNOW THIS PLANET IS CHANGING SO EVOLUTION IS CHANGING WITH IT COULD BE THAT THIS IS THE NEW PENGUIN BIGGER BETTER SOLDIER PENGUINS MORE ABLE TO HANDLE GLOBAL CHANGE BUT SOME SAY ITS FAKE I AM NOT A PHOTO PERSON BUT MY WIFE IS SHE HAS THE TOP PHOTO SOFTWARE BY MAC AND A $7.000 MAC COMPUTER SET UP WE TRIED TO DO A RECREATION OF THIS PHOTO WE DID ONE TO SOME ONE LIKE ME IT LOOKS THE SAME BUT SHE POINTED OUT THE SHADES OF LIGHTS IF YOU LOOK AT THE COAT YOU CAN SEE THE LIGHT REFLECTING OFF THE PENGUINS COAT IS NOT AS BRITE AS THE WHITE CHESTED PENGUINS BUT ITS THERE YOU WOULD NOT SEE THAT WITH REG PHOTO SHOP YOU WOULD NEED SPECIAL SOFTWARE AND ITS HIGH IT WOULD NOT BE WORTH IT JUST FOR A JOKE BUT WHO KNOWS I SAY TO THE PERSON IF ITS A FAKE GET A LIFE IF NOT TOPS TO YOU.

  166. Marcel du Crocq
    March 11, 2010, 8:41 am

    My collegue (Jan Meulenkamp) thinks this picture has been manipulated with photoshop.
    Must say picture looks off!
    Well maybe I should see it myself by fly to the exact location and film it.

  167. Gloria Brashier
    March 11, 2010, 8:30 am

    All black? Yeh, this is the JOHNNY CASH of all penguin’s. So cool!

  168. Spencer M
    March 11, 2010, 8:02 am

    This type of animal should be studyed not stoffed and put in a colection this is why im going to be a bioligist (sorry for spelling errors)

  169. charles
    March 11, 2010, 6:29 am

    what makes me think the photo is shoped is the white around the neck but if not that is a one
    in a million shot to get the bird in shuch a great shot congrats if it is real for the great pic

  170. Mother Macabre
    March 11, 2010, 4:54 am

    Good Heavens, people…National Geographic does not fake photos. This is not The Enquirer!
    Their public image as a reliable resource of information is a valuable asset.
    The penguin, he is cooler in black, no?

  171. Sharon
    March 11, 2010, 3:45 am

    I’m going to stick with my statement that it is not Photoshopped. I’ve been using Photoshop for over 7 years for photo adjustment, photo retouching, and photo restoration as well as just playing for fun. I’ve taken several classes in that time also. I wouldn’t classify myself and expert, but would definitely put myself in the intermediate class.
    AKRS, I’m not sure what these circles you saw when you zoomed in to 800% were. I don’t have Microsoft Picture Viewer so I can’t compare how that renders images compared to Photoshop, but in Photoshop I only saw squares. Both the pixels, and larger blocks of pixels.
    I did see the color differences you did (blue-grey vs. purple-grey) but I believe the blocks of different colors next to each other are caused by the color resampling done when the image is downsized. If you go look at an image of a regular penguin that Andrew took and used the same photo upload program for, it also has the different color blocks on it’s fin. There’s no reason to believe that photo has been ‘shopped. http://ow.ly/i/zIY/original
    Not only is this picture low internet resolution, it is also significantly downsized from the original. It was also most likely downsized using the online software at the ow.ly site rather than software as sophisticated as Photoshop. The camera Andrew’s using shoots at 2352 x 1568 pixels. When the ow.ly site downsized it, it was posted at 363 x 618 pixels. The picture accompanying this article was downsized again to 520 x 305 pixels. I strongly believe that any color inconsistencies from one spot to the next is a byproduct of resampling.
    The toughest part of Photoshopping an image like this would be on the edges, ensuring that there was no white still showing, while not making the edge look fake. I see no evidence along the edges that anything was done. It looks natural. I also can’t imagine using the relatively inefficient clone tool to color in an entire penguin on 4 different photos. Any pattern similarities between two spots are probably because the feathers are similar. And although we think penguins are smooth, they are covered with feathers which can be subtly going in different directions depending on how the bird’s muscles are flexed.
    I can’t speak to why all four pictures were removed, although it is likely that either the copyright was sold, or NatGeo requested it as he was on assignment for NatGeo Traveler when he shot them. With a “one in a zillion” find like this, I am sure they want to protect their copyright as well as they can. I wish the photos hadn’t been pulled, but I am sure they will appear again at some point, probably in a NatGeo Traveler article.
    As was said, it really is difficult to determine authenticity from low quality photos, but I still don’t see any indication in the 4 photos originally uploaded that points to Photoshopping. I’d love to get my hands on higher resolution copies to check for ‘shopping signs.
    ~Sharon
    I notice that “Weasley” still hasn’t come up with his photos of what he claims the penguin really looked like.

  172. Marie
    March 11, 2010, 2:54 am

    Wow, that’s hard to believe, even with the photo! Dr. Baker was quoted as saying, “The animal has lost control of its pigmentation patterns.” Do any animals have control of their own pigmentation?! (Humans putting themselves in tanning booths doesn’t count.) I don’t believe so!! It seems an odd comment coming from a scientist.

  173. jay
    March 11, 2010, 2:11 am

    cant you see? its a sign! 2012 doomsday!

  174. jmd_jamie
    March 11, 2010, 12:33 am

    It looks photo-shopped but if it is real, that is amazing!!!

  175. Nightfall
    March 11, 2010, 12:23 am

    Bah, This picture is fake, I can tell.

  176. AKRS
    March 11, 2010, 12:07 am

    By the way…
    I visited Andrew Evans’ Bus2Antarctica Twitter page, and the February 25th photo links result in “This photo was removed by its owner.”
    This could be because he sold the copyright. However, I’m not sure I consider Twitter a credible academic source anyway.
    Best,
    AKRS

  177. AKRS
    March 10, 2010, 11:58 pm

    Well, I don’t think that they are costumes RAM. :-)
    I think that the photograph has been photoshopped. I am not a Photoshop expert, but I have been using Photoshop for three years and I use the clone stamp a lot.
    I right-clicked and then did “Save Picture As…” Then, I zoomed-in (800% in Micrsoft Picture Viewer). You can see circles of distinctly different textures and colors (blue-grey vs. purple-grey) in many areas, and there are many more subtly different circles. Some of it looks like good photoshopping, the circles blend and overlap. In my experience, a natural picture will have gradual changes in color because of light and shade. You can copy an image five-inches over on a person’s clothes and have it look like a different color (like this fuzzy blue-purple difference). But the biggest give-away is the circular areas of texture going different directions.
    If you look at the other penguin there are not so many tiny areas of distinct textures. Although, the difference of white color and distance may account for this. It is normal in a low quality photograph (copied from the internet) to be pixelated, and this makes determining its authenticity more difficult. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.
    I think this photograph is a fake.
    I wanted it to be real!
    Arguments to the contrary are welcome.
    Sincerely,
    AKRS

  178. armando
    March 10, 2010, 11:49 pm

    being so close to New Zealand i’m sure he is a member of the all blacks

  179. Bobbie
    March 10, 2010, 11:24 pm

    UNIQUE!

  180. RAM
    March 10, 2010, 11:17 pm

    Give me a break!
    Neither penguin is even close to real. Check out the arms and lumps. The real little guys dont look like that!
    The feet are fake!
    They are costumes!
    Photoshop could have done a way better job, trust me I know it well! Yea there are real sea lions in the background…
    National Geagraphic! come on and get a grip
    It makes me crazy, and too much black is going way too far
    Sincerely,
    RAM

  181. Martin Nguyen
    March 10, 2010, 11:09 pm

    OMG. UGLY!

  182. Hermione Gringer
    March 10, 2010, 10:20 pm

    Andrew Evans is broke chap. In need of popularity, and the money that comes along with it.
    Enter Photoshop.
    ‘Nuff said.

  183. Noadi
    March 10, 2010, 9:59 pm

    stella: It’s late summer in the southern hemisphere right now so it’s their warmest time of year. This was also taken on a sub-antarctic island not in Antarctica so it’s a bit warmer there.

  184. stella
    March 10, 2010, 9:35 pm

    ummmm… where’s the SNOW ??… It appears this little guy is ready for the climate change.

  185. Michiel Tebbes
    March 10, 2010, 2:05 pm

    April 1st foolsday???

  186. rundee
    March 8, 2010, 11:21 am

    wow i love penguin…. and when i grow up i want to study penguins .. weee.. but im still on 10thgrade hehe

  187. Sharon
    March 6, 2010, 3:08 pm

    Ronald Weasley: You claim to have been on the National Geographic Explorer with Andrew. Where are your photos of the penguin? Nat Geo isn’t relying on just one photo as proof. I have seen 4 different photos of this penguin!
    To me, this photo doesn’t look Photoshopped. I don’t see anything in it, or the other three pictures of the black penguin to indicate Photoshopping!
    I tried putting up a comment with links to the other photos, but it doesn’t ever show up. I am guessing that’s because I put links in it.
    If you go to Andrew’s Bus2Antarctica Twitter feed and scroll back to Feb 25th you will find four tweets with links to pictures.

  188. Heather B
    March 6, 2010, 10:33 am

    I took on look at the photo and thought “WOW- Photoshop”!
    It is blaingly obvious that this is fake!

  189. Ronald Weasley
    March 6, 2010, 2:08 am

    I don’t know how the author of this article didn’t pick up on this, but the image is fake. I can say with 100% certainty that this is not the original photograph. I wish to keep my anonymity because I am on this Antarctic expedition with Andrew Evens, but I do have to tell you that this image is indeed photoshoped. I am extremely disappointed in National Geographic for allowing this work to be publish, I do wish that they would do their own research next time and not rely on one rouge photo as proof of the impossible happening. The original photo of this remarkable penguin actually has a blotched pattern on his chest, NOT COMPLETELY BLACK.
    Once again, just to clarify to everybody, THIS IMAGE IS 100% FAKE.

  190. Ronald Weasley
    March 6, 2010, 2:07 am

    I don’t know how the author of this article didn’t pick up on this, but the image is fake. I can say with 100% certainty that this is not the original photograph. I wish to keep my anonymity because I am on this Antarctic expedition with Andrew Evens, but I do have to tell you that this image is indeed photoshoped. I am extremely disappointed in National Geographic for allowing this work to be publish, I do wish that they would do their own research next time and not rely on one rouge photo as proof of the impossible happening. The original photo of this remarkable penguin actually has a blotched pattern on his chest, NOT COMPLETELY BLACK.
    Once again, just to clarify to everybody, THIS IMAGE IS 100% FAKE.

  191. nellyconway
    March 5, 2010, 11:57 pm

    II gotta say that looks shopped. But I suppose I have no black penguins to compare it to.

  192. Mark H. Tucker, IV
    March 5, 2010, 10:55 pm

    That would look most fabulous in my study after a high-quality taxidermal preparation. Perhaps I’ll send some people down the the antarctic to fetch it up. Yes indeed, I think I shall do that. I will dispatch a team at once, before the seasonal weather in and around the Southern Ocean presents an obstacle. Thank you for bringing this beautiful animal to my attention. I am quite excited at the prospect of having him in my presence and adding him to my collection!

  193. jobbloss
    March 5, 2010, 10:21 pm
  194. David
    March 5, 2010, 10:18 pm

    Myra – it took me some time but if you read the profs comments again you’ll notice that he was stunned because this penguin has the opposite problem of standard pigmentation mutations, therefore a zillion to one.

  195. Jack Frapp
    March 5, 2010, 10:16 pm

    Wow that is truly amazing.
    Jes
    http://www.total-anonymity.us.tc

  196. Riaz N
    March 5, 2010, 9:56 pm

    WOW great shot, that is a very interesting penguin is that condition similar to albinism?

  197. Tim
    March 5, 2010, 6:40 pm

    I want to touch it.

  198. David
    March 5, 2010, 6:20 pm

    Wow those penguins are looking so beautiful.
    Indian Hotel Search

  199. Helena Vidaurri de la Cruz
    March 5, 2010, 3:36 pm

    I’m a dermatologist and my main interest is on genetic skin diseases. This looks to me like a giant melanocytic nevus, even more so because of this thickenned look of the feet. I’d love to hear your input

  200. Kate Vadakin
    March 5, 2010, 2:35 pm

    I am a Penguin lover and I collect ‘em, but this is sooooo RARE!!! Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing this!

  201. Ryan
    March 5, 2010, 1:43 pm

    LOL Joe. This is so odd looking that it’s really cool.

  202. Joe N
    March 5, 2010, 1:19 pm

    all this picture does is prove that blacks are taking over

  203. Jesse C
    March 5, 2010, 12:45 pm

    I can’t help but think this is a photoshop job, but on the other hand, being all black would keep the fella warmer – as long as it was getting sun. This could be one of those genetic mutations that changes an entire species for the better (of its survival of course) – how it didn’t happen already is odd however.

  204. Nancy DeForrest
    March 5, 2010, 11:48 am

    This very interesting. Even the bill is colored differently.

  205. Andy
    March 5, 2010, 11:44 am

    Black tuxes are all the rage now…

  206. Sanjeev Gangaramany
    March 5, 2010, 11:14 am

    This picture is a fake

  207. JGoode
    March 5, 2010, 10:51 am

    What an awesome penguin photo opp – Seeing other posts about this photo, I was waiting for the “it’s been photochopped” comment. In awe that it’s genuine. Penguins do indeed Rock!

  208. Howley
    March 5, 2010, 10:35 am

    This penquin is so amazing. Something tells me that he is not the only one with an all black/dark blue “suit” either way it was nice of him to be at the right place and the right time for this photo to take place. Penquins do rock!

  209. Lisa
    March 5, 2010, 5:03 am

    That’s pretty cool ;-). Anthony, you’d be amazed at how animals with these types of mutations can survive in the wild. I study penguins and was lucky enough to see a white (leucistic) Yellow-eyed Penguin while doing fieldwork. This guy has apparently been around for at least 15-20 years according to previous researchers. He lives in an area that is colonised by sealions, sharks and killer whales and has survived all that ;-). I reckon this King has a good chance…Penguins rock!!!

  210. Bob Young
    March 4, 2010, 5:25 pm

    It’s Lord Vader!

  211. Anthony Brown
    March 4, 2010, 3:19 pm

    This is super cool! Although, with a lack of very important counter-shading, this guy wasn’t meant for this world, and will probably get picked off sooner rather than later.

  212. Ted Cheeseman
    March 4, 2010, 12:59 pm

    Hi —
    Do you know when and where that photo of the black King Penguin by Andrew Evans was taken. I was expedition leader on a Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris voyage in January 2006 when we saw the same penguin at Fortuna Bay on South Geogia. Evidently the photo you posted is from South Georgia but I’d *love* to know when and where it was taken. I can send a picture if you’d like to see another view of the same curious penguino four years ago.

  213. Brian
    March 4, 2010, 6:00 am

    The professor is a specialist in penguins who has also studies melanism extensively in birds. What he said is unusual is that there are no white patches. Others have found partially melanistic penguins, but this is the first all-black king penguin….

  214. Myra Shields
    March 4, 2010, 5:44 am

    I don’t know why the Prof in the article was flabbergasted.
    Animals have the same body chemistry to a great extent as humans so they are likely to suffer pigmentation patterns.

  215. David Jr
    March 3, 2010, 10:40 pm

    I’ll say it again, Wow! Looks like the penguin is wearing some sort of protective layer. Great shot!
    Regards,
    David