June 15th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
This is a cool video I thought I’d share with you animal & planet lovers (and especially you penguin lovers).
From Wired, the site a friendly reader found the video on, here’s more:
Massive huddles of male Emperor penguins are crucial to keeping warm during Antarctica’s brutal winter while they incubate their eggs.
These tightly packed penguins shuffle en mass every 30 to 60 seconds, reordering themselves so every individual gets to cycle through the warm, central part of the huddle.
The trick with these groups is to get the packing just right. If the penguins are too loosely arranged, they won’t stay warm enough, said Daniel Zitterbart, Barbara Wienecke, James Butler and Ben Fabry in a June 1 study in PloS One. But if they’re too tightly jammed together, they can’t rearrange themselves, and animals on the edge of the huddle won’t get a chance to warm up.
By taking small, 2- to 4-inch steps every minute or so, the penguins achieve maximum packing density. It’s like tapping on a can of flour to jiggle everything into the bottom.
But the shuffling also results in a wave of movement that rolls through the group and rotates every bird through the warmest parts of the huddle. Penguins can join the group on one end, cycle through the huddle and exit on the other end.
This creeping movement also means that different groups can merge into larger huddles.
Interesting stuff. I wonder of humans could coordinate in such a way…
Read more here: Emperor Penguins Rotate Through Giant Huddle for Warmth
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Image Credit: Glenn Grant/National Science Foundation
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