Scientists have figured out how penguins have lost the ability to fly

18.06.2013

PPerforman research explain why penguins are clumsy and slow divers.

Do know how these ancient and clumsy birds fly? Yes — according to Discovery News.

Penguins have lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, and the results of a recent study explain why these birds are clumsy and slow-moving divers, instead of the beautiful winged pilots, as other members of their class.

The study, published in the latest issue of National Academy of Sciences, found out that there are mutually exclusive things — good fins can not be used for operations.

"As soon stopped flying penguins, changes in the structure of the wing and the whole body — the size and shape is likely to have followed a very fast because the flight is no longer set for the formation of the physical limitations of the body" — said one of the study's authors, Robert Ricklefs in an interview with Discovery News.

"It should be noted that penguins are attacked by predators in the water much more often than when they are on the ground, therefore, there was an evolutionary necessity to the body of penguins have been adapted to maximize the efficient swimming and diving" — added Ricklefs, who teaches biology at University of Missouri at St. Louis.

Ricklefs, lead author of the study, Kyle Elliott and their team first wondered why the ubiquitous black-and-white birds have lost their ability to fly millions of years ago, given the enormous role played by the ability to fly. Emperor penguins are his heavy tread of comical to 32 miles between their nest and the sea. Sometimes the transition takes a few days, and this time could be reduced to just a few hours, if they could fly. Why are they now can not fly?

Or swim or dive

To unravel this mystery, researchers have focused on the birds — especially on Kairi and who knows how to swim and dive. Scientists have caught about 40 wild birds and equipped them with special equipment to measure energy expenditure during flight. After all, in this study, scientists have discovered a new world record. Murres and cormorants large sea turns out to be the highest energy costs ever recorded in any flying animal.

"The main costs of energy occur when lifting into the air," — explained Ricklefs.

Despite the fact that the guillemots and can fly and swim, there seems to be some kind of threshold, where one activity is ahead of the other in development. If the bird must fly long distances, it will lose the ability to swim and dive. On the other hand, if the existence of the bird depends on its ability to swim or dive, hunting or being forced to hide from the enemy, there will be a tendency for the loss of her flying skills. In the case of penguins such skills have disappeared completely, along with wings, fins evolved into the sea of the same type as that of marine mammals.

The study also sheds light on how the prehistoric flying penguins looked and acted.

"Flying Penguin ancestors probably not too different in appearance from the guillemots and her relatives, and is likely to lead the same lifestyle," — said Ricklefs.

The reasons for lack of inspiration penguins are different from why no wings were ostriches and emus that do not swim or dive. These large birds flying traded on the ability to run, and quite quickly. Probably the ancestors of ostriches and emus there was no need to lag or seasonal migrations. They may have lived on the southern continent, inhabited by relatively few predators. Their legs were strong enough, it was not necessary to pologat flight.

Scientists Tony Diamond of the University of New Brunswick, James Lovvorn from Southern Illinois University and Daniel Robey from the Department of Fishing and Wildlife agrees with the findings of the latest study, reported in Discovery News.

Diamond believes that their work "explores the unique variety of mobility patterns in birds — walking, running, swimming, flying — that clarify and explain the evolutionary components, puzzling scientists."

Rory Wilson of Swansea University, added that it would be important to take into account in the study of different types of feathers — is an issue that directly affects the retention of heat. The loss of heat, in turn, can affect the amount of energy spent by a bird in flight or voyage.

See also: Expedition to Antarctica, Antarctica Nature.

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