Emperor Penguins Use Traveling Wave to Stay Warm

When it comes to staying warm during in freezing cold Antarctic winter, Emperor penguins are the experts. They huddle close together to retain body heat, but they also move ever so slightly — about 2 cm in various directions every 30 to 60 seconds. Scientists have used a mathematical model which showed that penguins use the same stop-and-go movements, like cars in a traffic jam, to stave off the winter chill.

“We were really surprised that a travelling wave can be triggered by any penguin in a huddle, rather than penguins on the outside trying to push in,” said Daniel Zitterbart, one of the researchers.

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