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The Spirit of Sacrifice

Updated: Nov 7, 2020


Let me tell you an amazing tale of sacrifice. In penguins, especially in Emperor Penguins, the degree of care, given first to the egg and then to the chick, is immense. The emperor penguin breeds in the middle of Southern Winter in the interior of the Antarctic continent, where it is not easy to find the food and where temperatures are as low as -20 degrees Celsius. As soon as the single egg is laid, the female begins a long journey, sometimes travelling as far as 160 kilometres to go back to sea to find the food to restore her energy. During this time, the male, who has gained weight before the egg was laid and so has large energy resources, incubates the egg while he sits on the ice. He puts the egg on his feet and cover it almost completely with the skin of his lower abdomen. Kept in this way at the same temperature as the body temperature of the adult, the embryo can develop. Hatching takes place by the time the female has returned, full of food. Then it's the male's turn to go back to the sea. By now, he is pretty hungry as he has been fasting for more than 100 days. Both parents will repeat the journey to and fro from the sea in order to feed their chick until it is independent and weighs more than they do. The extra weight will allow it to fast for as long as about 30 days, until it reaches to the sea to feed itself.

Bonus: Male Emperor Penguins have another trick for surviving the difficult task of incubation. They assemble in a large groups and have rotation system whereby each one of them, in turn, is in the middle of the group or on the outside. This allows them to reduce heat loss quickly. What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know in the forum.

#Science #AlwaysCurious

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