With global warming high on the agenda at the moment, the possible fate of the penguin has been in the news as its natural habitat is affected by the consequences of rising sea temperatures and diminishing ice cover in the Antarctic.

The word penguin is another word for which the origin remains unclear. For many years it was believed that the word was of Welsh origin, deriving from the Welsh words pen and gwyn, meaning 'head' and 'white' respectively. This seems a fairly convincing theory until you take a closer look at a penguin. The head of the penguin is black, not white. And while some believe that the Welsh were the first Europeans to reach North America, it seems unlikely that they were the first to reach the Antarctic and give a name to the strange black and white creatures found there. Another explanation might be that the penguin is a corruption of pin wing, a description of the flightless bird's tiny wings.