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The tuxedo look on African penguins holds a special purpose and researchers are grateful for it

Researchers are impressed with the intellectually bewildering reason why penguins have tuxedo-like appearances.

The tuxedo look on African penguins holds a special purpose and researchers are grateful for it
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Taryn Elliott

The adorable aura of penguins remains unmatched given their unique attributes and features. However, what strikes out as one of their most magnificent qualities is their black and white contrasted plumage or layers of feathers. These add to their charm giving a tuxedo-like appearance and causing the creatures to look like distinguished gentlemen. However, Animal Behavior reported that there is an intriguing reason behind this plumage or tuxedo look on African penguins. The latter who have a black-spotted trail on their chest, gain their recognition from the same. Science elaborated further on the matter and shared that the pattern is visible as a detailed structure to identify one penguin from another.

Image Source: Pexels| Taryn Eliott
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Taryn Elliott

It helps the creatures to find their mates or similar species among the many that scout through in large groups. Animal psychologist Andreas Nieder said, “It is an original study with a remarkable finding.” As a part of the research, he undoubtedly found it impressive that what seemed to be just a feature held a purpose. The African penguins at Zoomarine Italia in Rome are distinguished and taken care of by zookeepers who are weary of their unique spots. The curiosity arose in Luigi Baciadonna, a psychologist who spotted the dots and was eager to understand how and why they’re all different and whether birds possess the ability to recognize one from another.

Image Source: Pexels| Isabela Viana
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Isabela Viana

The experiment was then carried out at the zoo to make its exceptionally interesting findings. Baciadonna and his team secluded an African penguin Gerry from the dozen others gently and calmly to carry out his study. The penguin was placed in a pen with life-sized pictures of two different African penguins. The spots differentiated the two but it was the test to figure out whether Gerry found any difference. One picture was that of the penguin’s close mate and the other was another African penguin that was supposedly not very familiar to Gerry. On measuring the time the penguin spent with each photo, they were able to conclude that the penguin spent more time with his mate. The next test consisted of two pictures of Gerry's mate but in one, the dots were removed. As a result, the penguin stood closer to the image that had the dots.

In the final test, two pictures of the African penguins were again shown to Gerry. However, this time both the pictures had the dots removed. The penguin wasn’t able to identify his mate from the other picture and the researchers found no difference between the durations in which the penguin looked at both the pictures. Mark Haubner, another psychologist who studies animal behavior said that recognizing individuals based on their looks is “a trait that we used to think was very special and cognitively difficult.” A recent study has proved that the creatures possess the intellect to identify their species and researchers “love it.” They are beyond surprised at this intellectual method penguins use to spot their mates. What many believed to be just a physical attribute turned out to be a distinguishing quality for penguins. An outstanding ability indeed!


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