Penguins (Compendium; Miscellaneous)

ramonmercado

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And now the missing penguins ...

Where on Earth, wondered Henri Weimerskirch, were all the penguins?

It was early 2017. Colleagues had sent the seabird ecologist aerial photos of Île aux Cochons, a barren volcanic island halfway between Madagascar and Antarctica that humans rarely visit. The images revealed vast areas of bare rock that, just a few decades before, had been crowded with some 500,000 pairs of nesting king penguins and their chicks. It appeared that the colony—the world’s largest king penguin aggregation and the second biggest colony of any of the 18 penguin species—had shrunk by 90%. Nearly 900,000 of the regal, meter-high, black, white, and orange birds had disappeared without a trace. “It was really incredible, completely unexpected,” recalls Weimerskirch, who works at the French national research agency CNRS.

Soon, he and other scientists were planning an expedition to the island—the first in 37 years, and only the third ever—to search for explanations. “We had to go see for ourselves,” says CNRS ecologist Charles Bost.

As the researchers prepared for the journey, they had to grapple with the logistical, political, and scientific challenges that have long bedeviled biologists trying to understand Antarctica’s remote ecosystems. The vast distances, rough weather, and rugged terrain make travel difficult and expensive.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/why-did-nearly-million-king-penguins-vanish-without-trace
 

EnolaGaia

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imgur.com/gallery/SSPir...
For archival purposes, here's the most penguin-relevant bit ...

AncientPenguins.jpg

By the time the non-avian dinosaurs went extinct (~66Ma), the ancestors of modern penguins were likely already swimming in southern waters. As continents continued to move and the world got a bit cooler, penguins radiated throughout the world. In South America, Australia, and New Zealand, there were several species of giants. The above illustration (whose creator I am unsure of – any ideas?) shows the biggest known penguins, as well as a few other extinct seabirds.

1) The great auk, Pinguinus impennis. Not a penguin, this giant puffin-like bird was hunted to extinction by humans in the 19th century.

2) Waimanu manneringi. This is the earliest known penguin, found in New Zealand shortly after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs.

3) Pachydyptes ponderosus. Literally, the “thick, weighty penguin.” Look at this guy. Also hailing from New Zealand, this big lug lived ~35Ma, and was the second-largest penguin ever to live.

4) Icadyptes salasi. This big, long-billed penguin was discovered in Peru in 2007. It was a foot taller than our biggest living penguin, the emperor.

5) Inkayacu paracasensis. Discovered in 2010, this penguin lived alongside Icadyptes and was similar in size. Interestingly, melanosomes from Inkayacu’s fossilized feathers reveal that it was reddish-brown or gray, rather than sporting tuxedos like most of our modern species.

6) Anthropornis nordenskjoeldi. This is the kingpin of penguins. Standing almost 6 feet tall, it (surprise) is also from New Zealand, though fossils have been found on subantarctic islands as well. Although it was huge and flightless, its wing anatomy still had certain features reminiscent of flying ancestors.
 

Kondoru

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Pedantic.

Garefowl (give the bird its true name, `Great Auk` is a post extinction monicker) are Penguins, as the latin name suggests.

Welsh `White faces`.

The Sothern hemisphere birds are frauds.
 

gordonrutter

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Pedantic.

Garefowl (give the bird its true name, `Great Auk` is a post extinction monicker) are Penguins, as the latin name suggests.

Welsh `White faces`.

The Sothern hemisphere birds are frauds.
If you’re being pedantic it’s scientific name not Latin name.
 

EnolaGaia

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Now we know why people visiting penguin colonies are so happy with their experiences and the birds - it's the laughing gas.

NOTE: The headline is misleading. Penguins don't directly emit nitrous oxide. Their feces emit the gas when broken down by microbes.

Antarctic Penguins Poop Out So Much Laughing Gas, It Has a Funny Effect on Researchers

Antarctica's king penguins emit such copious amounts of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, via their faeces that researchers went a little "cuckoo" studying them, according to a Danish scientific study published Thursday.

"Penguin guano produces significantly high levels of nitrous oxide around their colonies," said the head of the study, Professor Bo Elberling, of the University of Copenhagen's Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management.

While studying colonies of king penguins on the Atlantic island of South Georgia between South America and Antarctica, "the researchers went 'cuckoo' from being surrounded by penguin poop", he said.

Besides being a strain on the climate, nitrous oxide has an effect very similar to the sedative laughing gas used at the dentist's.

"After nosing about in guano for several hours, one goes completely cuckoo. One begins to feel ill and get a headache," Elberling said. ...

The nitrous oxide is explained by the penguin diet of krill and fish, which contains high levels of nitrogen.

Nitrogen is released from the penguins' faeces into the ground and soil bacteria then convert it into nitrous oxide ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-love-antarctic-penguin-poop-here-s-why
 

EnolaGaia

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Recent research illustrates the connections among prehistoric penguins and similar birds that once lived in the northern hemisphere.
New Zealand’s Ancient Monster Penguins Had Doppelgangers in Japan, the USA and Canada

New Zealand’s monster penguins that lived 62 million years ago had doppelgangers in Japan, the USA and Canada, a study published today in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research has found.

Scientists have identified striking similarities between the penguins’ fossilized bones and those of a group of much younger Northern Hemisphere birds, the plotopterids.

These similarities suggest plotopterids and ancient penguins looked very similar and might help scientists understand how birds started using their wings to swim instead of fly.

Around 62 million years ago, the earliest known penguins swam in tropical seas that almost submerged the land that is now New Zealand. Paleontologists have found the fossilized bones of these ancient waddlers at Waipara, North Canterbury. They have identified nine different species, ranging in size from small penguins, the size of today’s Yellow-Eyed Penguin, to 1.6 meter-high monsters.

Plotopterids developed in the Northern Hemisphere much later than penguins, with the first species appearing between 37 and 34 million years ago. Their fossils have been found at a number of sites in North America and Japan. Like penguins, they used their flipper-like wings to swim through the sea. Unlike penguins, which have survived into the modern era, the last plotopterid species became extinct around 25 million years ago. ...
FULL STORY: https://scitechdaily.com/new-zealan...ad-doppelgangers-in-japan-the-usa-and-canada/
 
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EnolaGaia

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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 ...
An update and extension of this research (which indeed won an IgNobel Prize) ...

It turns out that the internal gut pressures allowing a penguin to shoot its poop are considerably higher than first believed.
Penguins shoot 'poop bombs' more than 4 feet, incredibly important study finds

Adorable penguins are champs at projectile pooping

If the Olympics awarded medals for long-distance pooping, penguins would take home the gold.

These tubby, aquatic birds can squirt arcing jets of poop to distances nearly twice their own body length, and scientists recently calculated just how much force their tiny rectums produce in order to do so — and how far the poop can fly.

Over a decade ago, scientists had explored the pressure needed for chinstrap and Adelie penguins to expel poop along a mostly horizontal path, which they identified as penguins' most common poop direction. For a new study, which appeared on the preprint site arXiv on July 2 and has not been peer-reviewed, another team of researchers analyzed a different fecal trajectory in Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti), which often poop in a descending arc away from their nests on higher ground. ...

The team of scientists who first addressed the penguin poo puzzle published their results in 2003, in the journal Polar Biology; that pioneering study won the authors an Ig Nobel Prize in 2005 for fluid dynamics.

When a new team of researchers revisited the question, they expanded on the earlier results by recalculating internal pressures inside the penguin's gut and rectum, correcting for viscosity of the poo, and factoring in air resistance along an arcing trajectory. They then discovered that the forces at work were even more extreme than previously suggested.

Pressure is measured in units called kilopascals (kPa), where 1 kPa is 1,000 newtons per square meter. In the new study, the scientists calculated that the pressure generated in the rectums of pooping penguins was as much as 28.2 kPa — about 1.4 times the estimate in the 2003 study. ...

Though Humboldt penguins stand only 28 inches (71 centimeters) tall, the scientists discovered that the birds can generate enough poo-propelling energy to send fecal "bombs" flying at speeds of nearly 5 mph (8 km/h), landing up to 53 inches (134 cm) away. This achievement would be comparable to an adult human shooting their feces to a distance of more than 10 feet (3 meters), Tajima told Live Science in an email. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/pengins-projectile-poo.html
 

Lb8535

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About 30 years ago I wandered into the the SF academy of sciences, which is a large natural science museum, and in the lobby there was a demonstration table with a docent and a real penguin baby - not so young because it had its feathers. You could pet it, which it liked a lot, and if it took off across the floor it got up a good speed. They're really solid little guys, not fluffy or slight like birds, and pretty heavy. Ranks in the top 10 of most fun I've ever had.
 

EnolaGaia

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Penguin poop stains seen from orbit have provided the evidence for Antarctic penguin colonies never before known to exist.
Satellites Reveal Hidden Colonies of Emperor Penguins We Never Knew Existed

Satellite images of penguin poop in Antarctica have revealed a number of Emperor penguin colonies living and breeding on the icy continent that scientists weren't previously aware of.

Eight completely new communities have now been found in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Antarctica, and three additional colonies that were previously identified on the ground have also been confirmed from space.

In total, we now know of 61 current breeding locations for the largest penguin on Earth (Aptenodytes forsteri), a 20 percent increase from before. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/satell...r-penguin-colonies-on-the-brink-of-extinction
 

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It's the one at the back in the shadows with the wasp waist, short legs and hooves that's really making me feel uncomfortable.
 

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Now we know ... The reason penguins are so strange is because they originated on the Lost Continent (Zealandia) ... :omr:
Ancestor of All Penguins Lived on Earth's 'Lost' 8th Continent Zealandia, Fossils Show

Earth's lost eighth continent, Zealandia, sank into the sea between 50 and 35 million years ago. Today, we know the tiny fraction of it that remains above the waves as New Zealand.

But before most of Zealandia disappeared - about 60 million years ago - ancient penguins walked upon the 2-million-square-mile continent (5.18 million square kilometres). In fact, a recent discovery has led scientists to conclude that all modern-day penguins likely descended from Zealandia's ancient birds.

The newly identified fossils of an extinct penguin species offer a crucial, previously missing link between ancient and modern penguins.

Last month, researchers announced that they'd found a set of well-preserved 3-million-year-old fossils, including a skull and a wing bone, on New Zealand's North Island. They identified the bones as belonging to a previously unknown species of crested penguin, which they named Eudyptes atatu. ...

The finding serves as "an important clue that New Zealand might have been a biodiversity hotspot for seabirds for millions of years," Daniel Thomas, a zoologist at Massey University and the lead author of the study, told Business Insider.

That's far longer than researchers previously realised; earlier studies had only dated the presence of crested penguins on New Zealand back about 7,000 years, Thomas said. The new timeline suggests the region is the penguin's most likely place of origin. ...

E. atatu lived in New Zealand tens of millions of years after the rest of Zealandia sank. But the researchers think its ancestor evolved about 60 million years ago, suggesting that penguins likely once wandered the continent while the rest of its surface lay above sea level. ...

These ancient penguins may have been gigantic. In 2017, researchers found that prehistoric "mega-penguins" stood 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. ...
FULL STORY: https://www.sciencealert.com/ancest...h-s-lost-8th-continent-zealandia-fossils-show
 
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