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  • Carroll Devine

Penguin Sense

You can forget “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” The question is “Are you smarter than a penguin?” Are we smarter than a pack of penguins?

Apparently not.

Emperor penguins who live in the Antarctic are able to survive frigid temperatures down to -20 degrees Celsius or below, not only because of the insulated coats nature has given them, but also more importantly because their built-in intelligence tells them to huddle in large groups to conserve heat and protect themselves from intense winds.

Researchers have found that not only do they aggregate, but they also keep the tightly-packed huddle constantly rotating. The ones on the outside who are most exposed, regularly muscle their way to the inside, while the inner core penguins who have gotten too hot, break the huddle to get to the outside to cool off. It’s a very organic, all-inclusive dance which benefits them all.

What if some of the penguins decided they didn’t want to take part in this dance? They would all lose, wouldn’t they? They would die. We humans think we’re so smart, but why haven’t we figured out a way to cooperate more for the benefit of us all?

The penguin Information was gleaned from the journal Animal Behavior, December 2015.

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