Penguins

Penguins

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Myopic little men in tuxedos, or highly efficient
land/water animals? Recent research indicates
there's more to penguins than meets the eye. If
you've every wondered what it would be like to
be able to see as clearly under water as you can
on land, just ask the nearest penguin.Most aquatic
animals are short-sighted on land. Most terrestrial
animals (and that includes us) are far-sighted under
water. But researchers have discovered that
penguins can apparently see equally well in both
environments, because of the unique structure of
their eyes. Penguins have to be able to see well
under water because their diet consists mainly of
plankton, molluscs, crustaceans, and the inevitable
fish. Through a special slowing-down of their heart
rate they're able, like many other diving animals, to
stay submerged long enough to search out and
chase whatever catches their fancy. On dry land,
it's a different story-or has been up to now.
Waddling along on their flat little feet, eyes fixed
intently on the ground, penguins appear myopic,
inefficient and generally out of place. In fact the
reverse is true. During a recent stay on the
Falkland Islands, a Canadian researcher
discovered that penguins are able to recognize
individuals and navigate the rocky terrain on which
they live quite well. Long of body and short of leg,
they probably poke their heads forward as an aid
to balance. And as for looking at the ground,
they're merely-like us-keeping an eye on where
they're going. The human eye is adapted for aerial
vision, which is why scuba divers-or even you and
I in the local swimming pool-must wear goggles or
a face mask to re-introduce air in front of our eyes
in order to see clearly. Among vertebrates in
general, the bird eye is frequently described as the
most efficient. Its superior quality, combined with
the fact that a large number of birds-cormorants,
pelicans, seagulls, even ducks, as well as
penguins-get their food from water, obviously

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