Looking at a penguin standing or waddling around on the island it may look like they have very short legs and no knees.

Watch Them Waddle

That Penguin Waddle

But yes, penguins do have knees! A penguin’s leg is composed of a short femur, knee, tibia and fibula. The upper leg bones are not visible as they are covered in feathers giving penguins a very short legged appearance. Here you can compare the leg of a penguin skeleton (left) to a model of a human skeleton (right).

penguin skeleton
human skeleton

Take at look at these x-rays of one of our penguins and you can see the leg bones, including the knee joint and how most of it is covered in the penguin’s body.

penguin x-ray
Head-on x-ray of penguin, the knees are in green rectangles
penguin x-ray side
Side-view of penguin knees in yellow rectangle

So now you know!

– Andrea