Penguins (Compendium; Miscellaneous)

OneWingedBird

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Ah, I've been looking all over the 'net for an amusing article that I saw on Penguins and then I find it again in this week's New Scientist:

Poop Shooters of the Antarctic

"Penguins are talented birds. They not only survive extreme temperatures, waddle vast distances and dive to extraordinary depths, it has emerged that they are one of nature's super-poopers. The birds are capable of expelling their faeces with extreme force, helping them avoid fouling both their feathers and their nests.

Researchers are forbidden from coming within 5 meters of chinstrap and Adelie penguins. So Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow and Jozsef Gal pf International University Breman in Germany took on the unenviable task of studying penguin pooping by observing and photographing the birds from a distance.

They found that the birds point their rear ends out of the nest, and then epel their thick, white to pink faeces with such force that it lands up to 40 centimetres away, leaving a streak in its wake. After accounting for the viscosity of the faeces, and the lengths and trajectories of the streaks, the researchers estimate that the birds generate pressures up to 60 kilopascals - more than half normal atmospheric pressure and more than four times the peak sqeeze typically exerted by humans.

To what use this information is to be put is unclear"


Personally I think this would be a fine candidate for an IgNobel Prize..
 

MrSnowman

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Curious, however, it's not just limited to penguins.

At Glastonbury in '97 I went for a poo in a bush, and tried to squat in a very weird position (I was terribly drunk). Sure enough (as I hadn't defecated for about 2 days) it came out with such violent force that it left me quite sore. After cleaning myself up, I discovered that the first 'load', as it were, to come out, had landed a metre or so from my position.

My companions were most impressed - after I told them; they weren't watching (at least I hope not), obviously.
 

OneWingedBird

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I wonder if The Guiness Book of Records has a category for human projectile poo - you could be a contender!
 

MrSnowman

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But doesn't Norris McWhirter have to be present to record the feat taking place? ;)

"Hold on Norris.. don't go yet.. just one more push... nrrrgghhhh"
 

Anome

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Seems to be a bit of a preoccupation in New Scientist lately. There was an article just before Christmas about the defecatory capacity of a species of caterpillar.

Said caterpillar certainly holds the record for distance in terms of body size...
 

Kondoru

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How Marvelous! Penguins for all their funny appearance must be one of my favorite birds...they are such marvels of adaptation.
 

MrSnowman

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Homo Aves said:
How Marvelous! Penguins for all their funny appearance must be one of my favorite birds...they are such marvels of adaptation.
And they're so cute with their little suits too :)
 

Min Bannister

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Mr Snowman said:
At Glastonbury in '97 I went for a poo in a bush
Huh, I was all ready to feign disgust at this, then you go and say something disarming about penguins and I can't do it!:rolleyes:
 

MrSnowman

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Min Bannister said:
Huh, I was all ready to feign disgust at this, then you go and say something disarming about penguins and I can't do it!:rolleyes:
Well you see.. it's always best to hit 'em with a broadside and then give 'em some kittens for their birthday.. People don't know whether to shout at you or not then ;)
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Media Contacts:
Dr. Julia A. Clarke, 919/515-7648
Paul K. Mueller, News Services, 919/515-3470

Feb. 11, 2004

Penguin Bones from “Land of Fire” Rewrite Bird’s Evolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Fossilized penguin bones found in Tierra del Fuego are the oldest ever found in South America.

Fossilized bones found in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, are likely those of the earliest known South American penguin, which probably lived 20 million years earlier than scientists had supposed. The new find doubles the known fossil record of penguins in South America.

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Julia A. Clarke, assistant professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, and her colleagues from Argentina, who published their findings in the December 2003 issue of the journal Novitates of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

According to Clarke, the specimen consists of parts of a pelvic girdle and a leg and dates to the Eocene epoch of Earth’s history – about 40 million years ago – sometimes called the “early age of mammals.” Found at Punta Torcida on Tierra del Fuego’s Atlantic coast, the fossilized bones are sufficiently different from known penguin anatomy to rewrite the story of penguin evolution.

Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost portion of the South American continent, means “land of fire” in English. Argentinean geologist Eduardo B. Olivero’s team discovered the fossils in 1999, and Olivero asked Clarke to help identify the bones.

“This early part of the penguin lineage must have arrived in South America during a comparatively warm period in Earth’s history,” said Clarke, “coincident with the beginning of, or just before, a major global cooling trend that occurred in the mid-Eocene. All other penguin fossils date to long after that ‘icehouse’ phase began and after the Antarctic icecap is inferred present.”

The new find may tell a radically different story from previous discoveries about penguins and their prehistoric travels. Despite the popular association of penguins with cold polar regions, said Clarke, species of the birds live near the equators as well. The earliest penguins, then, might have developed in warmer climates, and slowly adapted as their habitats grew icier.

The scientists found portions of a pelvis, a nearly complete right femur, a fragment of the left femur and other bones. Details of the bones, and a careful comparison of them to both fossil and modern penguin bones, allowed them to unravel the evolutionary relationships of the new fossil.

Clarke says that a larger, more comprehensive study of the penguin family tree is necessary before the full story of early penguins in the Land of Fire can be told. But she’s confident that the discovery will help clarify the timing and pattern of penguin diversification.

“This is the first vertebrate from that distant epoch ever found in Tierra del Fuego,” she says. “As modest as these fossilized bones are, they’ll tell us a great deal about the morphological evolution of penguins and the travels of these birds some 40 million years ago on a very different planet Earth.”

-mueller-
http://www.ncsu.edu/news/press_releases/04_02/049.htm
 

Timble2

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Not really crytozoo, but quite interesting.

The Grauniad

Pick up a penguin? Not this one you wouldn't

James Randerson, science correspondent
Monday June 25, 2007
Guardian Unlimited


With their immaculate dinner-suit plumage, smiley beaks and cute waddling gait, penguins are some of the most unusual and endearing members of the bird kingdom. A new fossil find, however, has revealed that one of their ancestors was a far more fearsome beast.
The fossil, which was discovered in Peru and is described today in detail by scientists reveals a creature that was over 1.5 metres tall and weighed as much as a person. The 36 million year old tropical bird's intimidating appearance was topped off with powerful forearms, a chunky neck and a potentially vicious 18 centimetre long spear-like beak. The discovery of the giant penguin is also shaking up scientists' understanding of penguin evolution. The finds indicate that penguins made the journey to equatorial regions much earlier in their evolutionary history than researchers had realised.

And because the penguins lived during a period when the Earth was experiencing a 'greenhouse' climate the pair of species are challenging what researchers thought they knew about how species adapt to hotter temperatures.

"It's a monster," said Julia Clarke at North Carolina State University who described the fossils with her team in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today. The two main finds are remarkably complete and well preserved. "The bone preservation is extremely good," she said, "We have so few relatively complete penguins from that period of penguin evolution." The detail is so good that the researchers were able to see fine patterning on the beak of the giant penguin left by a sheet of keratin - the material that makes up feathers.

The giant species has been christened Icadyptes salasi, while Perudyptes devriesi, was around half as big. If it were alive today, Icadyptes would tower over the largest penguins in the planet - the emperors. Familiar to fans of natural history documentaries, their epic migration across the Antarctic wilderness to bring food to their chicks was celebrated in the film March of the Penguins. But even these modern day giants were only around half as big as their prehistoric ancestor.

The team do not have any direct evidence for the penguins' diet, but the wings of both birds are adapted for swimming and both were found in sediments laid down just off shore. Icadyptes' elongated beak would have been capable of snaring large fish, but its shape is so unusual, the team believe it used a previously unknown technique for catching prey. "It is distinct from anything we have in living penguins," said Prof Clarke. Attachment points for neck muscles are also very large suggesting that it had a powerful neck, perhaps for spearing prey.

The discovery goes against the general rule that as climatic conditions get warmer, species tend to evolve a smaller body size. The theory is that large size is useful in the cold because it reduces the ratio of surface area to volume, making it easier to conserve heat. But Icadyptes was found in a region that resembled the modern day Atacam desert at a time when the Earth was experiencing an extremely warm period in its history. The researchers speculate that there may have been an increase in ocean upwelling at the time around what is now the Peruvian coast. This would have fertilised the food chain leading to an abundance of fish and so easy pickings for the mammoth birds. The find also contradicts the idea that penguins did not reach equatorial regions until between 4 and 8 million years ago, well after a cooling period had set in that began to swell the ice caps at the poles. Today, only one species - the Humboldt penguin - is found on the coast of Peru.

The team are keen to point out that although these species were adapted to a tropical lifestyle, it does not mean that current penguin species will be able to adapt quickly to rising temperatures associated with man-made climate change. "Current global warming is occurring on a significantly shorter timescale. The data from these new fossil species cannot be used to argue that warming wouldn't negatively impact living penguins," said Prof Clarke.

The Icadyptes fossil is the most complete of any giant penguin yet discovered. But it may be smaller than the largest giant known. Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi or Nordenskjoeld's Giant Penguin, which is thought to have lived up to six million years ago, could be up to 2 metres high and weighed in at nearly 100 kilogrammes. It is known from fossils on Seymour Island off Antarctica and New Zealand. The Peruvian monster penguin and its older cousin were discovered in the Ullujaya Valley and Quebrada Perdida respectively. Both locations are in the Ica Department of Peru
 

Xanatico

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Aren´t gigantic killer penguins mentioned in Mountains of Madness?
 

ramonmercado

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Ancient giant penguin unearthed in Peru

By Katia Moskvitch Science reporter, BBC News

Inkayacu paracasensis An artist's impression of the giant penguin


The fossil of a giant penguin that lived 36 million years ago has been discovered in Peru.

Scientists say the find shows that key features of the plumage were present quite early on in penguin evolution.

The team told Science magazine that the animal's feathers were brown and grey, distinct from the black "tuxedo" look of modern penguins.

It was about 1.5m (5ft) tall and nearly twice as heavy as an Emperor Penguin, the largest living species.

The bird, named Inkayacu paracasensis, or Water King, waddled the Earth during the late Eocene period.

It had a long, straight beak, much longer than that of its modern relatives.
'Pedro'

The fossil was found in Reserva Nacional de Paracas in Peru. The scientists nicknamed the penguin "Pedro" - after a scaly character in a Colombian TV series.

One of the highlights of the study was the presence of well-preserved feathers and scales.

"Before this fossil, we had no evidence about the feathers, colours and flipper shapes of ancient penguins," said Julia Clarke, a palaeontologist at the University of Texas, US, and lead author of the study.

"We had questions and this was our first chance to start answering them."

She explained to BBC News that the fossil also shows that penguins' main physical features evolved millions of years ago, but the colour of penguin feathers switched from reddish brown and grey to black-and-white quite recently.
Great divers

It is the particular shape of flippers and feathers that makes penguins such powerful swimmers.

During wing-propelled diving - the so-called aquatic flight - these birds are able to generate propulsive forces in an environment about 800 times denser and 70 times more viscous than air.
Julia Clarke The team excavated the fossil in Reserva Nacional de Paracas in Peru

"One thing that's interesting in living penguins is that how deep they dive correlates with body size," said Dr Clarke.

"The heavier the penguin, the deeper it dives. If that holds true for any penguins, then the dive depths achieved by these giant forms would've been very different."

To get an idea about the colour of the feathers of the long-dead penguin, the team examined melanosomes - microscopic structures in the fossil, whose size, shape and arrangement determine the colour of a bird's feathers.

"Insights into the colours of extinct organisms can reveal clues to their ecology and behaviour," said co-author Jakob Vinther of Yale University, US.

"But most of all, I think it is simply just cool to get a look at the colour of a remarkable extinct organism, such as a giant fossil penguin."

The researchers say that the find, together with some other recent discoveries from the same area, is just another evidence of a rich diversity of giant penguin species in the late Eocene period of low-latitude Peru.

"This is an extraordinary site to preserve evidence of structures like scales and feathers," said Dr Clarke.

"So there's incredible potential for new discoveries that can change our view not only of penguin evolution, but of other marine vertebrates."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11420635
 
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Kondoru

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Isnt that exciting? and in colour too!

Bird fossils are so rare and mostly very fragmentary. this is a big suprise
 

guestus

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Imagine the possiblities for a disney movie there...
 

Stormkhan

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Xanatico said:
Aren´t gigantic killer penguins mentioned in Mountains of Madness?
Yerp. O'course, they weren't killer (unless by accidentally blundering into you) and they were albino. But they were certainly the "bad boys" of penguin kind.
 

Swifty

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Xanatic*

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Does a fat penguin falling over make a different sound than a thin penguin falling over? I'm thinking a tuba horn sound.
 

Analogue Boy

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Does a fat penguin falling over make a different sound than a thin penguin falling over? I'm thinking a tuba horn sound.
And if there's no-one around, does it make any noise at all?
 

Swifty

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*runs off to push a fat penguin over to work it all out* :)
 

FrKadash

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I just saw this interesting article from The Guardian from 2014 posted on Facebook and remembered the case of the giant penguin footprints in Florida which convinced Ivan T. Sanderson, (see More Things, 1969 and FT 66 pp. 41-3). And for those that don't remember the hoax here's its wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_penguin_hoax

Giant penguin fossil shows bird was taller than most humans
Analysis of 37m-year-old fossil unearthed in Antarctica shows species would have dwarfed today’s biggest living penguins
Nishad Karim
Monday 4 August 2014 17.39 BST

A penguin species that lived millions of years ago would have dwarfed today’s biggest living penguins and stood as tall as most humans, according to analysis of fossils by a team of researchers from the La Plata Museum in Argentina.
Palaeeudyptes klekowskii has already been dubbed the “colossus penguin”, and is the most complete fossil ever uncovered from the Antarctic. The unearthed bones are 37m years old and include the longest recorded fused ankle-foot bone as well as parts of a wing bone.
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/04/giant-penguin-fossil-antarctica
 

oldrover

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Good post. There seems to be a bit of resurgence recently of 'classic' cryptozoology on this sub forum. It's nice to read accounts phrased like, 'A young couple also reported having been harassed by a large creature' again.
 

Yithian

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I just saw this interesting article from The Guardian from 2014 posted on Facebook and remembered the case of the giant penguin footprints in Florida which convinced Ivan T. Sanderson, (see More Things, 1969 and FT 66 pp. 41-3). And for those that don't remember the hoax here's its wiki page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_penguin_hoax
A few more details on the Penguin hoax here:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/52460/strange-states-floridas-giant-penguin
 
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