From flapper to flipper: how the penguin lost its flight

Michael Parker, John Speakman (Interviewee)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Penguins can move underwater with the speed of a swallow or swift, but cannot fly even as far as a chicken. How did a bird that in some cases shuffles 40 miles to its breeding grounds on unsuitable flippers end up losing its ability to fly there quickly?

A team of researchers from the UK, US, Canada and China have put forward a theory of how the penguin lost its ability to fly, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.

Professor John Speakman, Chair of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen, was part of the international team and carried out the number-crunching that showed how, over time, penguins found it more advantageous to have a wing suited to swimming than flying.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2013


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