Knights of Terrova Creature Design: The Rock Penguin, Aptenodytes motemterrai
Physical description: The rock penguin is a large species of penguin standing at 5 feet tall (1.5 meters) and weighing 150 pounds (68 kg). The peculiar thing about these birds is that they are covered head to toe in reticula, a type of feather that has evolved to resemble a scale. Normally birds only possess these on their feet and lower legs, but the rock penguin has these unusual feathers covering it entirely. The only non-scale feathers on the bird are surrounding its beak, these feathers are long and thin almost hair-like forming sturdy sensing “whiskers”. Their beaks are robust and jagged forming pseudo serrated teeth last recorded millions of years ago on birds such as pelagornis. The coloring of these penguins varies based on the regional composition of rocks, ranging from slate gray to sandstone beige, to volcanic black.
Diet: the rock penguin feeds almost exclusively on crustaceans and shelled mollusks. Which it crushes in its powerful beak. This bird is rather slow-moving in the water making catching anything other than these hard-shelled slow-moving creatures difficult. Rock penguins have been known to wait by piers and eat the hard-earned catches of the fishermen, they are exceptionally hard to scare off and will ignore most people trying to retrieve their catches.
Behavior: the rock penguin is not a particularly aggressive animal but can become very defensive if their chicks or burrows are threatened. The rock penguin’s ability for excavation is a marvel, they can move earth faster than an orc on tarova dust. Using their strong hind limbs and sturdy beak these industrious birds build large underground labyrinths for their colonies to live in. A rock penguin nesting labyrinth is an extremely dangerous place to find oneself, as the parents become fiercely protective of their chicks. Spending most of their time in these caverns they have evolved excellent night vision. Rock penguins have a habit of hoarding anything that shines.
Ecology: the rock penguin has very few natural predators. Their thick scales, pack like mentality, and devastating bite makes most animals think twice before attacking a rock penguin. Rock penguins tend to live near natural cave systems often expanding upon them to suit the colony’s needs.
Lifecycle: The rock penguin mates for life often falling into deep depressions and even dying after the loss of a mate. Colonies of rock penguins abandon their breeding grounds like most penguin species do rather they live in their burrows and caves year-round. Rock penguins have an incubation period of eight months. They have on average one chick every six years. With each chick staying with its parents for 5 years. If the colony is still small the chick will stay in that colony when it becomes an adult, if the colony is becoming too large that generation of chicks will leave to form their own colony potentially joining or trading members with another fledgling colony. The rock penguin lives an average of 50 years.
Relationship with humans: Their fearsome visage, penchant for darkness, and lust for gold and all things shiny has earned the rock penguin a reputation as “the dragons of the coast”. There have been many a tale of an adventurer venturing down into a known rock penguin nesting caves only to be greeted by hundreds of eyes glowing gold and green in the darkness accompanied by deep almost crocodilian like rumbling. Rock penguins will steal fish and valuables from fishermen but will generally never harass most individuals.