Penguins can reach more than one meter while defecating, new study finds
A gentoo penguin dives into the water in its enclosure at the Sea Life aquarium in central London
(photo credit: REUTERS)
This behavior is not limited to penguins, with other birds being known to practice similar behavior, and it is believed that this is in order to avoid getting feces on themselves or their nests.
A new study calculating the fecal excretion mechanisms of penguins has found that their rectal pressure is stronger than previously believed.The study, written by Hiroyuki Tajima of Japan's Kochi University's Department of Mathematics and Physics and Fumiya Fujiswa of the Katsurahama Aquarium in Kochi, was published online on arxiv.org on July 3.When penguins defecate, they shoot their waste out from their rectums. This behavior is not limited to penguins, with other birds being known to practice similar behavior, and it is believed that this is in order to avoid getting feces on themselves or their nests.While the maximum range of a penguin's fecal excretion was a subject of some debate, the study sought to calculate the trajectory and safety zone of the excretion. To do this, they sought to apply several mathematical and physics equations and formulae, including Bernoulli's theorem, the Hagen-Poiseuille equation and Newton's equation of motion.
According to these calculations, the upper bound for the maximum flying distance is around 1.34 meters, with the typical initial velocity of the excretion being 2 meters per second. While the study's results do help further the understanding of penguins' ecological properties, it is also significant for aiding penguin keepers at aquariums keep a safety zone in which to avoid being hit by projectile feces. "These bombings sometimes embarrass keepers under breeding environments like an aquarium," the study reads. "It is practically important to know how far their faeceses reach from the origin. Such information would save keepers from the crisis. It would also be helpful for a newcomer guidance for keepers to avoid such an incident."