All and sundry know about Emperor penguins as a breed of flightless birds that can sustain difficult, cold weather conditions in various regions of the Antarctic. However, latest study conducted by a group of emeritus researchers reached a conclusion that even the Emperor penguins found it tough to sustain life in the extreme weather conditions prevalent at the last ice age.
What Happened In The Last Ice Age?
During the last ice age, the cold was so harsh that the Emperor penguins, known as a species of penguins that are one of the tallest and heaviest kinds and can withstand the harshest of climates, failed to push themselves to withstand the cold blast. The numbers of such Emperor penguins came down drastically to at least seven times, in comparison to the current numbers.
What Do Researchers Say?
Gemma Clucas, an erudite researcher and colleagues from University of Southampton researched on the myriad of available details pertaining to genetic diversity of populations. The study was primarily a comparative one –comparisons were drawn between the ancient populations with the current of varied breeds of Emperor penguins.
The researchers claimed that the previous ice age had been approximately 14 degrees colder, on an average. They said that breeding locations were minimal and the numbers of available preys were much lower at that time. Hence, Clucas and colleagues explained the premise behind rapid reduction in the number of Emperor penguins in Antarctica.
Clucas corroborated that during the last ice age there had been twice the volume of ice fall as can be counted for on weighing the net sea ice. This resulted in reducing the breeding locations around Antarctica. Moreover, the research work estimated that the breeding grounds must have been placed at distances apart, owing to the stable sea ice.
Role Of Polynyas
The researchers concluded that the reason for their survival can be attributed to presence of polynyas, which are areas prevalent within sea-ice, which are devoid of ice owing to currents and wind, making it easy for the penguins to access ocean water for feeding purposes.
Image Credits: G.E. Grant, 60South.com.