During the period of the Antarctic winter, in order to survive the frigid conditions, the male penguins huddle together in large groups and they move like cars in traffic. Watch the video…
Scintists from the Alfred Wegener Institute said the stop-and-go motion plays a vital role in keeping the huddle as dense and warm as possible.
When a penguin in a huddle takes a step, it triggers a wave of coordinated motion through the group – similar to the way cars inch forward in a traffic jam.
The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the only vertebrate species that breeds during the severe conditions of the Antarctic winter. To conserve energy, they form densely packed huddles with a triangular lattice structure. Video recordings from previous studies revealed coordinated movements in regular wave-like patterns within these huddles. It is thought that these waves are triggered by individual penguins that locally disturb the huddle structure, and that the traveling wave serves to remove lattice defects and restore order. The mechanisms that govern wave propagation are currently unknown, however.
source New Scientist