Nope, it’s not a wetsuit — a writer on the subantarctic island of South Georgia recently snapped a shot of an all-black king penguin, a complete rarity in the animal world. Author Andrew Evans sent the image to National Geographic, whose editors contacted Canadian ornithologist Dr. Allan Baker for his input.
“Well that is astonishing,” Baker told National Geographic. “I’ve never ever seen that before. It’s a one in a zillion kind of mutation somewhere.” He went on to explain that melanistic birds (those with extra skin/feather pigmentation) often have white spots where pigment hasn’t colored their feathers, but it’s incredibly rare for color deposits to happen in an abnormal spot — like on this penguin’s breast feathers.
Since the magazine first printed the photo online on March 3, several readers have written in to discuss their own black penguin sightings. But none yet seem to compare to this guy, whom Evans described as a “single black king moving across a chessboard of so many white pawns.” Checkmate!