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Penguin Pooh from Space

penguin congo line

Research on Penguins has just entered a renaissance. Emperor penguins are a rare breed that tough out the harsh Antarctic Winter by huddling together, singing penguin songs of old, and shooting the @#$!. Until recently scientists knew very little about which emperors go where and whether or not they take clothes. It’s hard to see them or anything else in the dark winter. But a great leap forward was recently made by Peter Fretwell and Phil Trathan when they discovered that penguins can be tracked by their poop from space.


This is what the future is all about. Putting existing technology together in new, clever(er) ways to understand more. By using images generated from the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA), it was noted that every once in a while an anomalous smudge shows up on the ice (See for yourself such a smudge above). That’s penguin pooh from space, Baby.

In the coming years, I’m sure analysis will be deduced in greater detail from photos like these- diet variety, colony psychology, who’s sleeping with who… But all this depends on the work of researchers who are out there in the trenches now, asking the hard questions and finding answers with intelligent design (ha). Researchers like Nathan Myhrvold, who explained penguin pooh trajectories in his landmark paper entitled “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh — Calculations on Avian Defaecation.” Ahh. We’re merely standing on the shoulders of Giants.

emperor Penguin lifecycle habit


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