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Published March 16, 2010

National Geographic Traveler contributor Andrew Evans recently spotted and filmed an all-black king penguin—a very rare mutant—on the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia.

© 2010 National Geographic; video: Andrew Evans

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UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT

This all black-feathered king penguin could be ‘one in a zillion.’

The video was recorded on the Sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia by National Geographic Traveler Magazine contributor editor Andrew Evans on his bus2Antarctica expedition.

While many king penguins and other penguins can have feather-coloring mutations, usually, the variations are partial.

Dr. Allan Baker, an ornithologist and head of the Department of Natural History at the Royal Ontario Museum, called the discovery of the ‘all-black’ king penguin “astonishing.” He jokingly said ”it’s a one in a zillion kind of mutation,” and scientifically calls it ‘very rare.’

He explains that typically, melanistic birds will have white spots where melanin pigmentation has failed to color the feathers. But it’s extremely rare for there to be melanin deposits over the entire breast of a bird.

Photographer Evans says he almost didn’t get the sighting recorded. As he got his camera positioned, the penguin started walking away.


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