“Antarctica. You know, that giant continent at the bottom of the earth that’s ruled by penguins and seals.”
~ C.B. Cook, Twinepathy
The wildlife of Antarctica are extremophiles, having to adapt to the dryness, low temperatures, and high exposure common in Antarctica. Eight species of penguins inhabit Antarctica and its offshore islands. Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are the only animals to breed on mainland Antarctica during the winter.
For Antarctica Day we refer to one of several tartans which have as colour inspiration homage to penguins and other animals of the Antarctic.
The Antarctic tartan is very pointedly designed:
Colours: white represents the ice-covered continent, ice flows, and the edge of the Antarctic Ocean; grey represents outcropping rocks, seals and birds; orange represents lichen, Emperor and King penguin (head) plumage; yellow also represents penguin plumage and the summer midnight sun; black and white together depict penguins and whales; pale blue represents crevasses in the ice and shallow blue icy waters on the ice shelves, whilst dark midnight blue represents the deep Antarctic Ocean and the darkness of the Antarctic winter.
The design is based upon the Antarctic's geography: the light square of white at the edge of the sett represents the light of the Antarctic summer on the ice-covered continent. This is quartered by threads of pale blue. These represent the zero / 360, 90, 180, and 270 lines of longitude. The point where they cross represents the South Pole. Two bands of grey surrounding the white heart depicts nunataks, mountain ranges, and exposed coastal rocks. Around the coast Antarctica's life forms are found so the colours that follow in the sett, orange, yellow, black and white, represent the wealth of animal life on land and in the seas. Orange also represents the lichens that encrust the rocks. Surrounding the land, pale blue and white depict the ice shelves whilst the outside is edged by bands of midnight blue for the ocean deeps and dark winters.
Each sett is separated by a thin band of white that represents the edge of Antarctica. Where these cross, the Southern Cross is depicted. This viewed diagonally also represents the Scottish saltire, tribute that 2001 is the centenary of Scott's first expedition to the Antarctic in 1901.
The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was minus 128.56 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 89.2 degrees Celsius), registered on July 21, 1983, at Antarctica's Vostok station.
For more amazing facts about the penguins of the Antarctic, click the rookery.