Wednesday, January 23, 2013

[PaleoOrnithology • 2012] Penguins: The Strangest Bird

A Panoply of Penguins

Art: Stephanie Abramowicz, Maps by XNR Productions

- Penguins are weird birds in that they cannot fly and are instead proficient swimmers and divers.
- Evolutionary biologists have long wondered how penguins evolved their peculiar traits and how some of their kind conquered the bitterly cold Antarctic.
- Recent fossil discoveries have enabled researchers to piece together the penguins' evolutionary past, revealing that some of the traits that fortify them against the cold evolved under warm conditions.
- Although penguins have triumphed over 60 million years of climate change, current warming conditions may outpace their ability to adapt.

R. Ewan Fordyce & Daniel T. Ksepka. 2012. The Strangest Bird. Scientific American 307, 56 - 61 | doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1112-56