Why Did Penguins Stop Flying?
2013-05-23 0:00

By George Dvorsky | io9


Researchers from the University of Manitoba have shown that birds can either be very good at flying or swimming, but not both. And they’ve been studying a very awkward seabird to prove it.

Animals that can fly really have it good. Flight allows for quick getaways, aerial view hunting, expanded territorial ranges, and the ability to travel vast distances when making seasonal migrations.

So, for a species to give up flight, there better be a damned good reason.

And indeed, the penguin did exactly such a thing about 70 million years ago, foregoing flight in favor of swimming. Scientists aren’t really sure why penguins made the switch, but they suspect it had something to do with a lack of land-based predators.

The High Cost of Flying

But a new theory, the biomechanical hypothesis, suggests that nature cannot provide a seabird with a wing that is proficient at both flying and swimming. For penguins, selectional pressures eventually tipped over in the direction of swimming, resulting in a vestigial wing that could propel the bird not through air, but through water. As a consequence, flight had to be completely abandoned lest the species remain mediocre at both — a condition that nature, with its preference for fitness peaks, will not endure.

[...]

Read the full article at: io9.com



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »