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

Hypercleanliness is making us sick - Children develop allergies and eczema
2015-02-27 20:31
Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet. The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, ...
USDA: Can’t We Just Scan Food to See GMO Ingredients?
2015-02-27 20:26
Tom Vislack, secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) told Congress that labeling genetically modified foods (GMOs) could be unnecessary if customers “use their phones to scan special bar codes or other symbols on food packages in the grocery store” to determine the ingredients and identify GMOs. Vislack said: “Industry could solve that issue in a heartbeat.” This idea “could have ...
Vikings Were Pioneers of Craft and International Trade
2015-02-26 23:30
The connections between technology, urban trading, and international economics which have come to define modern living are nothing new. Back in the first millennium AD, the Vikings were expert at exploring these very issues. While the Vikings are gone their legacy is remembered, such as at the annual Jorvik Viking Festival in York. The Norsemen's military prowess and exploration are more ...
Just Based on DNA, Scientists Can Construct an Image of Your Face
2015-02-26 22:05
Putting pencil to paper has been the tried-and-true method to illustrate the faces of wanted criminals, but new technology is changing this traditional approach. DNA, rather than an artist’s skill, is an emerging tool to recreate the face behind a crime. The new forensic technique is called DNA phenotyping. It relies on DNA, found for instance in a drop of blood, ...
FCC Votes In Favor Of Obama's Net Neutrality - Has The Slippery Slope To Web Censorship Begun?
2015-02-26 20:14
"An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life," according to President Obama and it appears his perspective on the heavy hand of government regulation inserting itself into the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the US economy, is how best to achieve "openness." Having pressured FCC's Tom Wheeler, the vote ...
More News »