Updated: Jun 22
Knights of Terrova Creature Design: The Fire Penguin, Megadyptes ignesregemi
Physical description: the fire penguin is a bit of an enigma as their ancestors were not native or kept captive in the region. It is believed that an ancient colony of yellow-eyed penguins migrated from Newzealand to the Americas. They stand at 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and weigh 70 pounds (32 kg). Like their ancestors, these penguins sport bright yellow eyes and a yellow band around their head where they differ is the usual black back and white belly is replaced by a Bright red back and a fiery orange belly. The chicks are born completely soot grey with soft downy feathers.
Diet: The fire penguin feeds almost exclusively on young killer clams and gunner squid. They are the only species of elemental penguins that will not harass fishermen for their catches.
Behavior: Fire penguins have been known to gather in massive colonies, the largest of these colonies currently reside in Newfoundland and numbers around three million birds and spans the northern fifth of the island. Fire penguins are not territorial animals but have a rather large bubble of “personal space” and will become quite aggressive if that is invaded by non-fire penguins. Breeding colonies of fire penguins will melt caves into the cliffs in which they inhabit. When feeding fire penguins can dive to depths of over 1800 feet (548 meters) whilst underwater they can hold their breaths for 20 minutes at a time. When a gunner squid is caught it is usually swallowed whole on the spot, young killer clams are brought to the surface where their tough shells are melted through. When threatened the fire penguin will spray an oily substance from its mouth that acts like napalm (sticking to objects and floating on water). They will then create sparks by gnashing bits of flint they store in their cheeks together, this ignites the oily substance burning their foe. When by their nesting ground they have been known to coat discarded glass and ceramic objects in this viscous oil and use their beaks to rather accurately launch it at their enemy, showering them in broken/molten glass or ceramics.
Ecology: the fire penguin generally stays near cliffs and heavily mountainous areas that have easy access to the sea. Their young are frequently preyed upon by aerial predators as they are unable to create fire at this age. Adult fire penguins do not fear land or aerial attack their only predators are underwater creatures where their fire is rendered useless.
Lifecycle: The fire penguin lives 25 years on average with older birds developing a smokey pattern on their heads and chests. Fire penguins are monogamous with breeding pairs finding each other year after year even in the vast colonies they breed in. Each day both penguins of the pair must fish in order to fill the enormous appetite of their chicks, in order to mitigate the threat of predation for their offspring the pair will melt a chamber into the rock caves where they roost and store their chick in these rock burrows. The chicks hatch after a two month incubation period, they are then kept under their parents’ care for the next four months. Two weeks after the chick’s parents stop returning to feed them they are usually desperate enough to take to the seas themselves.
Relationship with humans: Generally these ill-tempered birds avoid contact with humans preferring to fish for themselves rather than steal from local fisheries. The only times they will actively seek out human settlements is during their breeding seasons, thousands of these birds will descend upon villages in search of glass and ceramic items. Fire penguins that can not find suitable glass or ceramic items have been known to shatter windows and other large objects and collect the large shards instead. During these raids, villages are forced to evacuate to special elevated, fireproof platforms to weather the storm. If interrupted during these raids they will not hesitate to “defend” themselves often resulting in the whole village burning to the ground.