Zoologists have discovered in Antarctica hundreds of mummified penguins

Zoologists have discovered in Antarctica hundreds of mummified penguins

Zoologists found evidence of two massive extinctions of colonies of Adelie penguins, which occurred around 750 and 200 years ago.


They found on the coast of East Antarctica about a hundred mummies of birds, hidden under a layer of snow, reported in the journal of Geophysical Research. The researchers explain these events of heavy rainfall, which forced the animals to leave many of subcolony. It is expected that such weather conditions will become more common as a result of changes in climate that will make mass extinctions more likely.

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Global climate change on the planet leads to very different consequences, which affect both individual species and entire ecosystems. In particular, scientists fear an increase in precipitation in some regions, which could cause a displacement of climatic zones. Despite the fact that a recent analysis revealed widespread changes, researchers in recent decades have repeatedly pointed out the increased snowfall in Antarctica, which led to the death of the local inhabitants, including the Adelie penguin.

A group of scientists under the leadership of Yasun Gao (Gao Yuesong) from the University of science and technology in China studied the remains of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) on the Peninsula long (Long Peninsula) near the Coast and Ingrid Christensen.

In this field zoologists have discovered numerous abandoned colonies, as well as remains of birds and their parts — they were mostly little ones. In some places the number of dead has reached 10-15 per square meter.

To find out what was the cause of the extinction, the researchers conducted radiocarbon Dating of human remains. In combination with chemical analysis of the sediments in which were found the mummies, the researchers came to the conclusion that the mass death of birds occurred in two stages: about 750 and about 200 years ago. Some remains also belonged to the modern era.

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The rarity of such events, according to scientists, suggests that they were caused by extreme weather anomalies. The increase in summer precipitation or melting snow can lead to hypothermia and, consequently, low survival rate in chickens: observations show that in the last few decades had disappeared several colonies.

Research the surrounding area, in particular of rocks and ice, speaks in favor of the hypothesis of Gao group, however, this is not to say. Zoologists have noted that the observed climate trends of recent decades in the Arctic, in particular the increase in precipitation, can also cause massive loss of Adelie penguins.