back to article PENGUINS are just TASTELESS, say boffins

Penguins may be immaculately tailored but it seems they may be a bit tasteless in other areas; specifically that of, erm, taste. This is according to new genetic research which indicates that the smartly turned out flightless birds of the Antarctic have the genes to detect only two of the five tastes (which are sweet, sour, …

  1. FartingHippo

    Not surprised

    If you're fed semi-digested fishy vomit from a very young age, a keen sense of taste is not a survival trait.

    [and yay for the penguin icon!]

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Believe me

    If I had to eat what penguins eat I wouldn't want to be able to taste it, either!

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    When you dont get your food from supermarkets

    - you chase it down yourself so you dont need any other way of identifying your sushi and krill.

  4. Howard Hanek

    Not to Killer Whales

    A survey of Killer Whales would certainly determine which species of penquin had the best taste.

    1. getHandle

      Re: Not to Killer Whales

      It's the ones with the blue wrapper of course!

    2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Not to Killer Whales

      "Penguins is practically chickens..."

      Note: before the Grammar Nazis blitz, it's a quote from a 1950 cartoon

  5. Dr_N Silver badge

    Not only are they tasteless...

    ...but also smaller than they were 30 years ago.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Not only are they tasteless...

      I had always thought the taste of penguins was


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not only are they tasteless...

        Shirley they taste like chicken?

        1. JamesTQuirk

          Re: Not only are they tasteless...

          NW Cynic

          "Shirley they taste like chicken?"

          Apparently so in yesteryears ....

          The Roast Penguin sounds OK, but the "Savoury Seal Brains (on toast)", would see me off out back doin a technicolour yawn ......

    2. Sarah Balfour

      Re: Not only are they tasteless...

      EVERYTHING'S smaller than it was 30 years ago - and thinner; like a lot of chocolate on yer biscuit (is it just me, or doe that somehow sound really filthy written down…?), tough! I don't eat 'em anymore, but Dad does - and you can see the biscuit through whatever it is that Jacob's pass off as chocolate!

      Mum used to buy Picnics all the time as a kid - she came over all nostalgic t'other day, and bought one; it was about 3mm thick, with one - I kid you not, ONE - solitary peanut!

      Bring back Aztec bars! And Texans! And Secrets!

      I only eat raw chocolate these days, the less stuff's been buggered about, the better… I'm munching on a trail mix made with 100% raw Ecuadorian cacao drops, macadamias, coconut shavings, and a few goji and golden Inca berries.

      I eat most of my food raw, cooking decreases the nutrition.

  6. skeptical i

    why "serve well chilled" is a warning

    re: "taste receptors required for detecting sweet, umami, and bitter tastes are temperature sensitive. They don't work when they get really cold"

    Any spiritous beverage wearing a "Serve well chilled" advisory should thus be seen as "tastes like kerosene but without the fine bouquet".

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    They're sort of like reality stars then?

    Both have no taste?

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: They're sort of like reality stars then?

      I'm sure the Penguins would disagree

  8. Little Mouse Silver badge


    Can't fly. Don't feel the cold. Now no sense of taste as well?

    Is there anything they can do?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Useless

      Swim fast?

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: Useless

      Can't fly? Really?

      Scientists have agreed for many yewars, that just because they move through a different medium, it does not mean they do not fly.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Useless

      What do you mean they cannot fly?

      You need to see the BBC film!

      1. djack

        Re: Useless

        That's awesome.. How did I miss that when it was broadcast?

  9. All names Taken

    Inverse evolution?

    The ones that could taste food stopped eating it, sought a vegetarian diet and, well, died due to shortage of green crops in the snowfields.

  10. sisk


    Technically there's no such thing as a 'salty' taste receptor. All taste receptors can pick up 'salty' flavors via the ion channels, which is a big part of why salt is so effective at enhancing certain flavors and blocking others. That being the case do penguins lack ion channels also or does the fact that they swim open mouthed through salt water to get their food just overload them?

    1. wdmot

      Re: Salty?

      No, Lewis Page made an error -- he first says "Penguins only have the DNA to pick up sweet and sour, apparently" but the referenced paper says "we infer that the sweet, umami, and bitter tastes have been lost in all penguin", i.e. they only have sour and salty taste sense left.

  11. Steven Raith

    I know what penguins tongues are for.....

    ....and that's why they won't let me in Scarborough Sealife Centre any more.

    Steven 'it's actually a pretty cool place, check it if you in the area' R

  12. Adrian Harvey

    Antartic only?

    I can't tell, as I don't have access to the full paper, but from the supplemental data it looks like the testing was only done on Antartic penguins. It therefore may not apply to Tux (the linux penguin - see icon). Tux was based on a little penguin at Canberra Zoo which is far too hot to have Emperor penguins in residence.

    - Note for El Reg - icon selection on iPad is broken - choosing penguin gives black helicopter! had to edit from desktop to get this right.

  13. jake Silver badge

    Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

    Penguin tastes like a cross between seagull/rat and old, oily fish. And it's really, really stringy. Quite narsty, actually.

    The scene: Accident with a cage door at the San Diego Zoo in 1983ish ... A two year old tried to poke his head back at us just as the door was closing. The otherwise healthy bird died instantly (broken neck) and we decided "waste not, want not", and fired up the hibachi ...

    1. sisk

      Re: Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

      Personally I can't think of any situation that didn't involve the threat of starving to death where I'd have been tempted to eat seagull or rat and I'm not too fond of fish either. I think I'll just take your word for it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

      #532 Zoo Keeper

      1. jake Silver badge

        @AC "35 mins" (whatever that means, ElReg) waqs: Re: Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

        "#532 Zoo Keeper"

        AC is wrong again. As always. Actually, I was pre-vet, dabbling in exotics. I went with the money, computers & networking.

        Do you actually have a life beyond reading my posts, AC? Just askin'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC "35 mins" (whatever that means, ElReg) waqs: Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

          "Do you actually have a life beyond reading my posts, AC? Just askin'"


          1. jake Silver badge

            @AC"9hrs" (whatever that means. ElReg (was:Re: @AC "35 mins" (whatever that means, ElReg)


            Post proof or retract.

      2. Jediben

        Re: Penguins aren't tasteless, not at all.

        Brilliant :)

  14. Just Enough

    Smartly Dressed

    Being dressed in a dinner jacket is always tasteful. They just lack a proper gentleman's black tie and patent leather shoes.

  15. khjohansen

    Fresh Fish!!

    Eating your food whilst it's still wiggling has the advantage of not having

    to worry if it's gone *off* or not.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can only taste sweet and sour? this penguin walks into a Chinese restaurant.............

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