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15 Things With Better Odds Than Picking a Perfect March Madness Bracket

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Picking a perfect March Madness bracket is astonishingly difficult. If you made a wild guess for each game—essentially a coin-flip, without taking things like seeding or even hunches into consideration—then your chances of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (that’s 9.2 quintillion). But the actual odds of picking a perfect bracket are far more fluid. Basketball games aren’t random. Some teams are better than others. A one-seed has never lost to a 16-seed. Annoyingly, Duke will find a way to win.

Statisticians have estimated that with a little knowledge, you can slash your odds to somewhere between 1 in 128 billion (a number cooked up by a DePaul mathematician) and 1 in 2.4 trillion (another figure, as determined by a Duke mathematician). That’s a large window, but even if you err on the side of optimism, you still have an excruciatingly small chance of nailing your bracket.

To illustrate that unfortunate truth, here are 15 examples of things that have better odds than picking a perfect March Madness bracket. Not all of these are perfectly analogous, given the differences in a truly random event, like tossing dice, and making an educated guess on a basketball game. Still, one thing is for certain: You won’t like your odds.

1. GETTING A ROYAL FLUSH IN TEXAS HOLD ‘EM // 1 IN 30,940

In poker, nothing beats a royal flush: Ace, king, queen, jack, 10—all suited. If you drew one every hand, you would always win. This would be a terrific strategy, except for the fact that it relies on some pretty astronomical odds. According to gaming probability website Wizard of Odds (which was a great resource for this list), the chances of getting a royal flush in a game of Texas Hold ‘Em are 1 in 30,940.

In Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is given two cards, which they combine with five shared “community” cards to reach the best possible five-card hand. In other words, you'd have seven cards to make a royal flush. Given the total amount of possible hands one can get, it will likely be a long time before you see that doozy come across the table. Just try your best to play it cool if it ever happens, please.

2. GETTING A ROYAL FLUSH IN TEXAS HOLD ‘ED AND BEATING SOMEONE WHO HAS FOUR ACES // 1 IN 165 MILLION

If merely winning isn’t enough, you may want to consider winning in a way that makes your opponent tearily ask the powers above what he or she did to deserve such an unlikely fate. For that, you’ll want to beat the nearly unbeatable poker hand of four aces with a royal flush.

The odds of that happening in Texas Hold ‘Em? According to the Wizard of Odds, your chances are 1 in 165 million. Amazingly, this very scenario happened in a World Series of Poker event, in 2008:

(The odds given by ESPN of 1 in 2.7 billion are inaccurate, according to the Wizard of Odds, because they didn’t account for the possibility of bad beats and both players getting a royal flush and splitting the pot.)

3. WINNING THE POWERBALL JACKPOT // 1 IN 292,201,338

People love telling you that you’re not going to win Powerball. Even Powerball doesn’t try to hide the fact that hitting the jackpot is a 1-in-292,201,338 shot in the dark. Well, guess what? You’ve got a much better chance at that than you do at picking a perfect March Madness bracket.

4. WINNING A MILLION DOLLARS ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE // 1 IN 8098 PLAYERS

In 2008, Michelle Loewenstein won a million dollars on Wheel of Fortune, becoming the game’s first-ever contestant to do so. This feat was made possible by the wheel’s “million dollar wedge,” which was introduced six months before her win.

Mike Gioia of Particle Bits was suspicious of this timing, and he ran the numbers to find what the odds are of such an event happening. After crunching the numbers (you can check out his process here), he came to the conclusion that 1 in every 8098 players would take home the seven-figure prize. That would be one contestant every 13.8 years. His conclusion? “The odds are so low and her circumstances so peculiar that Michelle Loewenstein's million dollar game is in all likelihood an ABC creation.”

In an affront to math, two other Wheel of Fortune contestants have taken home the million-dollar prize since then.

5. HITTING A STOPPING HAND IN BLACKJACK BY SAYING “HIT ME!” 10 TIMES IN A ROW (IN A SIX-DECK GAME) // 1 IN 100,000,000

The Wizard of Odds ran a 100-million hand simulation and found that the chances of you reaching a stopping hand (17-21) while playing basic blackjack strategy and by drawing 10 cards is 1 in 100,000,000.

Who knows what would have happened if Austin Powers hadn’t lived so dangerously:

6. SEEING THE SAME ROULETTE COLOR 20 TIMES IN A ROW // 1 IN 3,091,873

According to Roulette Star, the chances of making like Ron Popeil—”Set it and forget it!”—at the roulette table are extremely slim. You have better odds with European roulette, where there is no green double-zero. Across the pond, the chances of a roulette streak of 20 reds or blacks is 1 in 1,813,778.

Either way, it still gives you a much better shot than picking a perfect bracket.

7. A ROULETTE WHEEL HITTING THE SAME NUMBER SEVEN TIMES IN A ROW // 1 IN 3 BILLION

In 2012, something truly remarkably supposedly happened at the Rio in Las Vegas: a roulette wheel hit the same number seven times in a row. Twitter user Jeff Romano was there to document it:

At 3 billion to 1 odds, this seems too good to be true. Caesar’s Las Vegas Blog pointed out that this was likely the result of a glitch in the table’s sensor device that is linked to the display and not an actual occurrence of chance. They checked in with the hotel and were able to confirm this. The house wins again, unfortunately.

8. HITTING JACKPOT ON A (STANDARD) SLOT MACHINE

On a classic slot machine (meaning one with three wheels, each with 64 “stops”), How Stuff Works estimates that the odds of hitting a jackpot are 1 in 262,144. Newer slot machines are jam-packed with more options, and are often more than a digital simulacrum of their simpler predecessors. Because of this, calculating those odds is far more complicated. Nonetheless, we’d be willing to bet that the chances are much better than picking that elusive perfect bracket.

9. THROWING DICE 154 TIMES IN CRAPS BEFORE CRAPPING OUT // 1 IN 5.6 BILLION

In 2009, Patricia DeMauro set a craps world record by rolling a pair of dice 154 times before crapping out. When it was all said and done, the New Jersey grandmother’s hot streak lasted four hours and 18 minutes.

Craps is complicated, so tabulating the odds of something like this happening is rather difficult. A seven would have ended her streak, and a UNLV professor told TIME that the chances of DeMauro rolling 154 times in a row without landing on a seven would be 1 in 1.56 trillion. However, you're allowed to roll sevens between points without having to stop, so she may have hit a few during her run that didn’t affect her streak. Because of these variables, the best way to find out the actual odds of DeMauro’s feat is through advanced computer simulations. The American Statistical Association did just that with a model called a Markov chain, and they found the odds to be 1 in 5.6 billion.

10. PLAYER WINS 20 HANDS IN A ROW IN BACCARAT // 1 IN 1.4 MILLION

Baccarat is a surprisingly simple game given the high stakes at which it is usually played. (Click here for an explanation.) A dealer pulls two hands from a “shoe” (six or eight decks shuffled together), and the players place bets on value of the dealer’s hand versus the “player hand.” You're also allowed to bet on the somewhat rare occurrence of a tie.

According to the Wizard of Odds, if you bet on the player hand 20 times in a row, the chances of you winning are 1 in 1.4 million. Meanwhile …

11. YOU BET ON THE DEALER IN BACCARAT 20 TIMES IN A ROW AND WIN EACH TIME // 1 IN 800,000

Betting on the dealer 20 times in a row gives gives you some much sweeter odds.

12. YOU BET RANDOMLY 20 TIMES IN A ROW IN BACCARAT AND WIN EACH TIME // 1 IN 1,048,576

Finally, the Wizards of Odds ran the numbers of a random baccarat bet streak, and they figure you will have a slightly better go at it than if you bet on the player hand every single time.

13. GETTING A PERFECT 29 HAND IN CRIBBAGE // 1 IN 216,580

It is possible to get a perfect hand in cribbage, one that shows all four fives and the Jack of whatever suit matches the turned-up card. According to Cribbage Corner, your chances are only 1 in 216,580, and those are even worse if you are playing a three- or four-person game. For that, your odds are 1 in 649,740.

14. WINNING $50,000 PLAYING PLINKO ON THE PRICE IS RIGHT // 1 IN 59,049

Sure, you may be confident that you know how much that NordicTrack costs. You may have even have hammered out a perfect strategy for the Showcase Showdown. But should you get invited to come on down and be the next contestant on The Price is Right and find yourself staring down the barrel of a Plinko board, the odds of you winning the $50,000 jackpot are 1 in 59,049, according to The Price is Right Blog.

(Note: This figure is in accordance with the old Bob Barker-era Plinko maximum win total, which was $50,000.)

15. MATCHING PAUL THE OCTOPUS’S WORLD CUP WIN STREAK // 1 IN 256

For the 2010 World Cup, Paul the Octopus slithered into our hearts by picking the correct winner of eight-straight matches, including the final. Paul was stationed at Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, and before each match, Paul’s handlers placed two food-filled boxes in his habitat. Each box had a flag from one of the competing nations, and whichever one Paul selected would be the “winner.”

According to +Plus Magazine, the odds of someone (or some octopus) randomly selecting eight winning teams in a row is 1 in 256. Whether Paul was lucky or clairvoyant is a matter for another day, but his feat is far from impossible.

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25 Royals in the Line of Succession to the British Throne
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Between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcoming their third child on April 23, 2018 and Prince Harry's upcoming marriage to Suits star Meghan Markle in May, the line of succession to the British throne has become a topic of interest all over the world. And the truth is, it’s complicated. Though Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 92 years old on April 21, shows no signs of slowing down, here are the royals who could one day take her place on the throne—in one very specific order.

1. PRINCE CHARLES

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As a direct result of his mother being the world's longest-reigning monarch, Prince Charles—the eldest child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—is the longest serving heir to the throne; he became heir apparent in 1952, when his mother ascended to the throne.

2. PRINCE WILLIAM

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At 35 years old, odds are good that Prince William, Duke of Cambridge—the eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana—will ascend to the throne at some point in his lifetime.

3. PRINCE GEORGE 

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On July 22, 2013, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge, who jumped the line to step ahead of his uncle, Prince Harry, to become third in the line of succession.

4. PRINCESS CHARLOTTE 

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On May 2, 2015, William and Catherine added another member to their growing brood: a daughter, Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Though her parents just welcomed a bouncing baby boy, she will maintain the fourth-in-line position because of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which went into effect just a few weeks before her arrival, and removed a long-held rule which stated that any male sibling (regardless of birth order) would automatically move ahead of her.

5. PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge depart the Lindo Wing with their newborn son at St Mary's Hospital on April 23, 2018 in London, England
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On April 23, 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed their third child—a son, whose name has yet to be announced, but who has already pushed his uncle, Prince Harry, out of the fifth position in line to the throne.

6. PRINCE HARRY

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As the second-born son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry's place in the line is a regularly changing one. It changed earlier this week, when his brother William's third child arrived, and could change again if and when their family expands.

7. PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK

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Prince Andrew is a perfect example of life before the Succession to the Crown Act 2013: Though he’s the second-born son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, he’s actually their third child (Princess Anne came between him and Prince Charles). But because the rules gave preference to males, Prince Andrew would inherit the throne before his older sister.

8. PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK

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Because Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah, Duchess of York, had two daughters and no sons, none of that male-preference primogeniture stuff mattered in terms of their placement. But with each child her cousin Prince William has, Princess Beatrice moves farther away from the throne. If Beatrice looks familiar, it might be because of the headlines she made with the Dr. Seuss-like hat she wore to William and Catherine’s wedding. (The infamous topper later sold on eBay for more than $130,000, all of which went to charity.)

9. PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK

Princess Eugenie of York arrives in the parade ring during Royal Ascot 2017 at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2017 in Ascot, England
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Though she’s regularly seen at royal events, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson’s youngest daughter spends the bulk of her time indulging her interest in fine art. She has held several jobs in the art world, and is currently a director at Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery.

10. PRINCE EDWARD, EARL OF WESSEX

 Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex leaves after a visit to Prince Philip
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Like his older brother Andrew, Prince Edward—the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip—jumps the line ahead of his older sister, Princess Anne, because of the older rule that put males ahead of females.

11. JAMES, VISCOUNT SEVERN

 James, Viscount Severn, rides on the fun fair carousel on day 4 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show on May 11, 2013 in Windsor, England
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James, Viscount Severn—the younger of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex’s two children, and their only son—turned 10 years old on December 17, 2017, and celebrated it as the 10th royal in line of succession. (The birth of the youngest Prince of Cambridge pushed him back a spot.)

12. LADY LOUISE MOUNTBATTEN-WINDSOR

Lady Louise Windsor during the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony at Buckingham Palace on June 15, 2013 in London, England.
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Because the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 wasn’t enacted until 2015, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor—the older of Prince Edward’s two children—will always be just behind her brother in the line of succession.

13. PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS ROYAL

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, visits the Hambleton Equine Clinic on October 10, 2017 in Stokesley, England
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Princess Anne, the Queen and Prince Philip’s second-born child and only daughter, may never rule over the throne in her lifetime, but at least she gets to be called “The Princess Royal.”

14. PETER PHILLIPS

Peter Phillips poses for a photo on The Mall
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The eldest child and only son of Princess Anne and her first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, stands just behind his mother in line. Interesting fact: Had Phillips’s wife, Autumn Kelly, not converted from Roman Catholicism to the Church of England before their marriage in 2008, Phillips would have lost his place in line.

15. SAVANNAH PHILLIPS

Savannah Phillips attends a Christmas Day church service
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On December 29, 2010, Peter and Autumn Phillips celebrated the birth of their first child, Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, who is also the Queen’s first great-grandchild. She’s currently 15th in line.

16. ISLA PHILLIPS

Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
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Less than two years after Savannah, Peter and Autumn Phillips had a second daughter, Isla, who stands just behind her sister in line. It wasn’t until 2017 that Savannah and Isla made their Buckingham Palace balcony debut (in honor of their great-grandmother’s 91st birthday).

17. ZARA TINDALL

 Zara Tindall arrives for a reception at the Guildhall
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Not one to hide in the background, Zara Tindall—Princess Anne’s second child and only daughter—has lived much of her life in the spotlight. A celebrated equestrian, she won the Eventing World Championship in Aachen in 2006 and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year the same year (her mom earned the same title in 1971). She’s also Prince George’s godmother.

18. MIA TINDALL

Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
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Zara Tindall’s daughter Mia may just be 4 years old, but she’s already regularly making headlines for her outgoing personality. And though she’s only 18th in line to the throne, her connection to the tippity top of the royal family is much closer: Prince William is her godfather.

19. DAVID ARMSTRONG-JONES, 2ND EARL OF SNOWDON

David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon
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David Armstrong-Jones, the eldest child of Princess Margaret, isn’t waiting around to see if the British crown ever lands on his head. The 56-year-old, who goes by David Linley in his professional life, has made a name for himself as a talented furniture-maker. His bespoke pieces, sold under the brand name Linley, can be purchased through his own boutiques as well as at Harrods.

20. CHARLES ARMSTRONG-JONES, VISCOUNT LINLEY

Margarita Armstrong-Jones and Charles Patrick Inigo Armstrong-Jones
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David Armstrong-Jones’s only son, Charles, may be 20th in line to the throne, but the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.

21. LADY MARGARITA ARMSTRONG-JONES

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) talks with Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (C) as her father David Armstrong-Jones (L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, known as David Linley
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Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones, the youngest child of David Armstrong-Jones and his only daughter, is also the only granddaughter of Princess Margaret. Now 15 years old (she'll turn 16 in June), Lady Margarita made headlines around the world in 2011 when she served as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

22. LADY SARAH CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto, the daughter of Princess Margaret arrives for her mother's memorial service
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Lady Sarah Chatto, Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones’s only daughter, is the youngest grandchild of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. In addition to serving as a bridesmaid to Princess Diana, she is Prince Harry’s godmother.

23. SAMUEL CHATTO

Lady Sarah Chatto (L) and her son Samuel Chatto (R) leave a Service of Thanksgiving for the life and work of Lord Snowdon at Westminster Abbey on April 7, 2017 in London, United Kingdom
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The first-born son of Lady Sarah Chatto and her husband, Daniel, has a long way to go to reach the throne: He’s currently 23rd in line.

24. ARTHUR CHATTO

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For better or worse, Sarah and Daniel Chatto’s youngest son Arthur has become a bit of a social media sensation. He's made headlines recently as he regularly posts selfies to Instagram—some of them on the eyebrow-raising side, at least as far as royals go.

25. PRINCE RICHARD, DUKE OF GLOUCESTER

Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester makes a speech during the unveiling ceremony of London's first public memorial to the Korean War on December 3, 2014 in London, England
Carl Court/Getty Images

At 73 years old, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester is the youngest grandchild of King George V and Queen Mary. Formerly, he made a living as an architect, until the 1972 death of his brother, Prince William of Gloucester, put him next in line to inherit his father’s dukedom. On June 10, 1974, he officially succeeded his father as Duke of Gloucester, Earl of Ulster, and Baron Culloden.

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20 Black-and-White Facts About Penguins
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To celebrate World Penguin Day (which is today, April 25), here are a few fun facts about these adorable tuxedoed birds.

1. All 17 species of penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

2. Emperor Penguins are the tallest species, standing nearly 4 feet tall. The smallest is the Little Blue Penguin, which is only about 16 inches.

emperor penguin
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3. The fastest species is the Gentoo Penguin, which can reach swimming speeds up to 22 mph.

Gentoo Penguin
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4. A penguin's striking coloring is a matter of camouflage; from above, its black back blends into the murky depths of the ocean. From below, its white belly is hidden against the bright surface.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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5. Fossils place the earliest penguin relative at some 60 million years ago, meaning an ancestor of the birds we see today survived the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

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6. Penguins ingest a lot of seawater while hunting for fish, but a special gland behind their eyes—the supraorbital gland—filters out the saltwater from their blood stream. Penguins excrete it through their beaks, or by sneezing.

penguins swimming in the ocean
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7. Unlike most birds—which lose and replace a few feathers at a time—penguins molt all at once, spending two or three weeks land-bound as they undergo what is called the catastrophic molt.

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8. All but two species of penguins breed in large colonies of up to a thousand birds.

king penguins
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9. It varies by species, but many penguins will mate with the same member of the opposite sex season after season.

chinstrap penguins
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10. Similarly, most species are also loyal to their exact nesting site, often returning to the same rookery in which they were born.

maegellic penguin nesting
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11. Some species create nests for their eggs out of pebbles and loose feathers. Emperor Penguins are an exception: They incubate a single egg each breeding season on the top of their feet. Under a loose fold of skin is a featherless area with a concentration of blood vessels that keeps the egg warm.

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12. In some species, it is the male penguin which incubates the eggs while females leave to hunt for weeks at a time. Because of this, pudgy males—with enough fat storage to survive weeks without eating—are most desirable.

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13. Penguin parents—both male and female—care for their young for several months until the chicks are strong enough to hunt for food on their own.

Penguins nest
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14. If a female Emperor Penguin's baby dies, she will often "kidnap" an unrelated chick.

penguin chicks
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15. Despite their lack of visible ears, penguins have excellent hearing and rely on distinct calls to identify their mates when returning to the crowded breeding grounds.

16. The first published account of penguins comes from Antonio Pigafetta, who was aboard Ferdinand Magellan's first circumnavigation of the globe in 1520. They spotted the animals near what was probably Punta Tombo in Argentina. (He called them "strange geese.")

17. An earlier, anonymous diary entry from Vasco da Gama's 1497 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope makes mention of flightless birds as large as ducks.

18. Because they aren't used to danger from animals on solid ground, wild penguins exhibit no particular fear of human tourists.

19. Unlike most sea mammals—which rely on blubber to stay warm—penguins survive because their feathers trap a layer of warm air next to the skin that serves as insulation, especially when they start generating muscular heat by swimming around.

20. In the 16th century, the word penguin actually referred to great auks (scientific name: Pinguinus impennis), a now-extinct species that inhabited the seas around eastern Canada. When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

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