So what's black and white and can count? Penguins calculate
Friday 20 August 1999
The penguins nest in colonies of tens of thousands of breeding pairs and identifying the call of their mate is the only way of ensuring they can feed during the months it takes to hatch an egg and rear a chick.
Females and males can spend two or three weeks on the nest while their mate hunts for fish. Being able to recognise the call of a returning partner is vital for survival, enabling the pair to switch roles. In windy weather the noise of the colony increases because of the sound of the wind and the increased din from other birds trying to make themselves heard.
Dr Theirry Lengagne and colleagues at the Universite Paris Sud in Orsay tagged and recorded the calls made by 30 pairs of king penguins during the summer breeding season of a colony of 40,000 pairs nesting in the Crozet archipelago of the southern Indian Ocean.
They found that the penguins were able to calculate the amount of background noise of the colony and compensate their call. "For the first time, to our knowledge, we have shown that a bird species takes into account the constraints imposed by wind on their acoustic communication," the scientists said. "In windy conditions, birds try to maintain the efficiency of communication by increasing both the number of calls emitted and the number of syllables per call.
"This result conforms with predictions from the mathematical theory of communication: increased redundancy in a signal improves the probability of receiving a message in a noisy channel."
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...