How `flowing traffic like huddle` protects emperor penguins in harsh weather

London : A new study has found that male emperor penguins use movements that resemble flowing traffic on a congested road to maintain their body heat during harsh Antarctic winter, when temperatures can dip to minus 50 degree Celsius and wind speeds reach 200 km/hr.

The study, conducted by Daniel Zitterbart from the Alfred Wegener Institute, found that the whole colony experiences small waves of movement that is triggered when one penguin moves more than 2cm away from his neighbour, the Independent reported.

The small waves of movements that flow through the group look like a “travelling wave” and actually maintain the close unity of the group, Zitterbart reported.

Zitterbart said that he was really surprised to learn that a travelling wave can be triggered by any penguin in a huddle rather than penguins on the outside trying to push in.

Zitterbart added that his team also found it amazing how two waves, if triggered shortly after each other, merged instead of passing one another, making sure the huddle remains compact.

The study is published in the New Journal of Physics.

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