The Power of a Penguin’s Rectum


When brooding their eggs, penguins can rarely leave the nest, but answering nature’s call is still necessary. To keep the nest clean, Adélie penguins project their feces up to more than a meter away. A new study refines previous calculations on this subject and finds that the penguin’s rectum develops far higher pressures than that of humans.

In one hypothetical calculation, the authors estimate that a human of average height, capable of developing penguin-like rectal pressures, would project excrement more than 3 meters. In the authors’ words, “He/she should not use usual rest rooms.”

Knowing the likely range of contact for penguins is important primarily for zookeepers, who understandably would like to avoid such projectiles. (Image credit: H. Neufeld; research credit: H. Tajima and F. Fujisawa; via

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