How huddling penguins keep each other cozy

Washington, Nov mber 17: Self-centeredness is good for penguins that huddle together to avoid Antarctica’s icy weather.

When individual birds act selfishly, it results in an equitable sharing of heat as they huddle in ways that keep them toastiest.

Even if penguins are only selfish, only trying to find the best spot for themselves and not thinking about their community, there is still equality in the amount of time that each penguin spends exposed to the wind,” study researcher Francois Blanchette, a mathematician at the University of California, Merced, who normally studies fluid dynamics, said in a statement.

Blanchette became interested in penguin huddles after watching the hit documentary “The March of the Penguins.”

He and his colleagues made mathematical models of penguin huddles, varying wind strength and turbulence to see what sort of shapes arose.

The model calculated which penguin along the edge of the huddle would be coldest and had that penguin move toward the center of the huddle in a sort of constant rotation.

These models produced long, thin huddles that gradually crept away from the wind direction. In real life, penguin huddles are more rotund, so researchers went about making their models more realistic.

They added an element of uncertainty, such as wind eddies and differences in size of the huddled penguins. The result was huddles that look much like those seen on real Antarctic ice.

“A penguin huddle is a self-sufficient system in which the animals rely on each other for shelter, and I think that is what makes it fair,” Blanchette said. An obstacle to the ideal shape, such as a wall, would likely make the huddles less fair, he added.

The study has been published in the online journal PLOS ONE. (ANI)