Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Royal Marriage--of Sorts.

King penguins have an innate mathematical ability which helps them re-locate their mates among tens of thousands of other noisy birds even during Antarctic gales.

In the latest proceedings of Biological Sciences of the Royal Society, a group of French scientists has shown that during windy conditions generating a high level of background noise these penguins increase the number of calls and the number of syllables per call to improve communication.

"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" say the authors.

Vocal recognition is crucial to the survival of king penguins. Mates are faithful throughout at least one breeding season and both incubate the egg and rear the chick.

The study was conducted over four weeks during the breeding season in the Crozet archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean in a colony of 40,000 pairs of king penguins.

Story courtesy of ABC Science

Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

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