Penguins are unforgivably cute, with all their fuzzy feathers and the belly-forward streamlined bodyline giving off a cute walking shape on land, and a smooth swimming posture in the icy waters of the antarctic sea.
And many scientists have deemed that the icy continent was where these birds originated from, explaining some varieties of the species living in Australia and South America as those who escaped the cold for a warmer climate. Well, it seems the theory has been completely reversed, just as the conceptions of their cuteness are overturned when you see the pictures of the insides of their beaks. (They are rather grotesque and oddly uncanny. Search them on Google!)
A new genealogical study from the folks at UC Berkeley has found that the penguins actually originated from Australia and New Zealand.
We should have known, since the sub-continent is the birthplace of the most weirdest and rare animal species in the planet! The study took turns studying specimens scattered all over the world, taking the time to study blood and tissues of 18 specimens, each from a different species of these hydrophilic non-flying aviaries.
The genomic analysis of their immigration across the Southern Hemisphere over the course of the last 1000 years were uncovered.
“Our results indicate that the penguin crown-group originated during the Miocene (geological period) in New Zealand and Australia, not in Antarctica as previously thought,” the excerpt from the team’s paper of the Monday issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reads.
“Penguins first occupied temperate environments and then radiated to cold Antarctic waters.” The analysis revealed that penguins originated in Australia and New Zealand 22 million years ago, then ancestors of the king and emperor penguins split off and moved to Antarctic waters, as the frigid sea teems with abundant food supply there.
Then about 12 million years ago, the Drake Passage — the body of water between Antarctica and the southern tip of South America — was opened.This explains the species’ dissemination across the Cape Horn area of South Africa, as well as the southernmost Isles of South America.
Penguins are found in Australia and New Zealand — as well as Antarctica, South America, the South Atlantic, southern Africa, the sub-Antarctic, Indian Ocean islands, and subtropical regions.
During the study, researchers also discovered a new lineage of penguin that has yet to be given a scientific description.Thence comes the question: If the birds originate from their ancestors in the warmer regions, won’t they be able to adapt to climate change?
“Right now, changes in the climate and environment are going too fast for some species to respond to the climate change,” said Juliana Vianna, associate professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, in the UC Berkeley statement.
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