Phenomena

Choosing Swimming Over Flight

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When studying modern birds it quickly becomes apparent that they can either be good at swimming or at flying, but not at both. The characteristics that make wings good for flying are diametrically opposed to those that make for a good swimmer. So most species have chosen to invest in one strategy or the other. Penguin ancestors chose the swimming route tens of millions of years ago, in the aftermath of the extinction event that emptied our oceans of the large reptilian predators that had ruled them during the age of the dinosaurs. This video explores what we know about the fossil record of these birds, and it’s pretty incredible. Did you know there used to be 2-meter-tall penguins? (Image and video credit: PBS Eons)

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