Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding Emperor Penguin Physiology May One Day Aid Doctors

Date:
November 16, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Long before they lit up movie screens in animated feature films or enthralled documentary film audiences worldwide with the story of their endless struggle to survive and reproduce, Emperor penguins intrigued early Antarctic explorers.

Scientists study penguin's physiology to learn how they can dive to depths of 300m (1500ft). Penguins spend much of their life in the ocean hunting for krill, fish and squid. Unlike humans, penguins don't suffer from many problems associated with diving, such as decompression sickness (the bends), shallow water black-out, and free-radical damage to tissues. Researcher's work understanding penguins may someday be applicable to anesthesiology and other medical applications.
Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

Long before they lit up movie screens in animated feature films or enthralled documentary film audiences worldwide with the story of their endless struggle to survive and reproduce, Emperor penguins intrigued early Antarctic explorers.

As movie makers prepare this weekend to release "Happy Feet," about an animated Emperor who loves to dance, and the Hallmark Channel readies the cable-television premier of the documentary "March of the Penguins" on Sat., Nov. 25, 2006, the National Science Foundation (NSF) is making available B-roll of the penguins in Antarctica. The agency is also offering journalists the opportunity to ask Antarctic researchers questions about why the birds still challenge the scientific mind.

On the eve of International Polar Year (IPY), Emperor penguins, which can dive unharmed to depths that no human could survive unaided, still fascinate researchers.

By studying the animals' physiology and the way their bodies respond to the crushing pressure of deep dives, these NSF-funded scientists, who also are medical doctors, may one day provide clues to help improve surgical procedures and anesthesia. The study of Emperors also is very much in the spirit of NSF's IPY theme of attempting to understand what makes the processes of life in the cold and dark unique.

The video describes a fascination with Emperors that dates to the early 20th century. In the mistaken belief that Emperor penguin embryos might shed light on evolutionary links between reptiles and birds, three British explorers set out in 1911, pulling sleds through the unending blackness and almost unbearable cold of an Antarctic winter, to reach the penguins' nesting grounds at Cape Crozier to collect their eggs. An account of the expedition, "The Worst Journey in the World," became an undisputed classic of polar literature. "Antarctic exploration is seldom as bad as you imagine," wrote its author Apsley Cherry-Garrard. "But this journey has beggared our language: no words could express its horror."

Two eggs broke during the return journey. Three were preserved. But by the time the studies of the eggs were published in the 1930s, the hypothetical link between penguins and reptiles had been discounted. The eggs and embryos remain today at the Natural History Museum in London.

International Polar Year begins in March 2007, and will be devoted to advanced scientific exploration at the Earth's poles.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Understanding Emperor Penguin Physiology May One Day Aid Doctors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061116082147.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, November 16). Understanding Emperor Penguin Physiology May One Day Aid Doctors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061116082147.htm
National Science Foundation. "Understanding Emperor Penguin Physiology May One Day Aid Doctors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061116082147.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins