Posts Tagged ‘Multimedia’
Critter cams are revealing the efficiency of Adélie penguins in picking off prey. A recent study by Dr. Yuuki Watanabe and Dr. Akinori Takahashi involved attaching small cameras and speed monitors to penguins in order to see firsthand how they forage. The penguins turned out to be remarkably skilled hunters, gathering prey with unerring accuracy and breathtaking speed. In dense prey swarms, they can capture two krill per second. One bird gobbled up over 200 krill in about an hour. And it turned out that they can be sneaky, using the ice as a barrier to trap fish. It is impressive to see how rapidly the penguins move their heads, and it makes me think about their brain structure.
Reference: Watanabe, Y. and A.Takahashi. In Press 2013. Linking animal-borne video to accelerometers reveals prey capture variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
I just found out about this set of land and underwater webcams trained on the Blackfooted penguins in the California Academy of Sciences. Check them out if you need a live penguin fix now that Happy Feet has left his enclosure in New Zealand.
The Radio In Vivo interview is now posted. We cover a lot of ground, but there are some penguins in the last third.
This video by Festo shows some amazing autonomous penguins – some swim and some fly. I was struck by one quote, noting that the swimming robot penguin does something living penguins cannot – back up. Sure enough, I’ve never seen a swimming penguin move backwards except when tossed by a wave. Thinking about the musculature of the penguin wing, the muscles and tendons are designed perfectly for transferring thrust from the wing back to the body, but only in one direction. Adding a “reverse gear” seems like it would be possible, but it would involve extra mass near the front of the penguin, which would be costly. Penguins seem to have foregone this solution, as they can just turn around in a rapid spin when they need to head in the other direction.
I enjoyed this video by Dyan deNapoli about the rescue of 40,000 penguins after an oil spill in South Africa.