Hormones may lead penguins to kidnapping

Apr 20, 2006
Penguins

A French researcher says hormones might help explain why female emperor penguins that have lost a baby sometimes kidnap a chick from another penguin.

The snatching behavior -- seen briefly in the Oscar-winning movie "March of the Penguins" -- has long puzzled scientists.

"The kidnapping lasts for a few hours or a week at most," Olivier Chastel, a biologist at Paris's French National Center for Scientific Research, told National Geographic News. After that time the kidnapper penguin seemingly loses interest and abandons her stolen chick.

"The abandoned hungry chicks usually die from the cold or predation," said Chastel. "There is no clear evolutionary advantage. In other words the kidnapping practice doesn't seem to help chicks survive and therefore pass on their genes to the next generation."

However, NGN says a new study indicates a hormone that influences the penguins' parenting urges might be driving the birds to steal chicks.

Scientists detail that hypothesis in this week's Journal of Experimental Biology.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Researchers discover low-grade nonwoven cotton picks up 50 times own weight of oil

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physicists discuss quantum pigeonhole principle

12 hours ago

The pigeonhole principle: "If you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes at least two of the pigeons end up in the same hole." So where's the argument? Physicists say there is an important argument. While the ...

Giant crater in Russia's far north sparks mystery

14 hours ago

A vast crater discovered in a remote region of Siberia known to locals as "the end of the world" is causing a sensation in Russia, with a group of scientists being sent to investigate.

NASA Mars spacecraft prepare for close comet flyby

14 hours ago

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

Recommended for you

Shrinking dinosaurs evolved into flying birds (w/ Video)

13 hours ago

A new study involving scientists from the University of Southampton has revealed how massive, meat-eating, ground-dwelling dinosaurs evolved into agile flying birds: they just kept shrinking and shrinking, ...

Congressional rift over environment influences public

17 hours ago

American citizens are increasingly divided over the issue of environmental protection and seem to be taking their cue primarily from Congress, finds new research led by a Michigan State University scholar.

Rural loss and ruin can be avoided

20 hours ago

An Australian Reconstruction Development Board needs to be established to help avoid more needless forcing of Australian farmers from their land, a QUT economist has said.

User comments : 0