Imagine standing out in the freezing cold for months on end, neither eating nor drinking, all for the sake of protecting your child. You are surrounded by other fathers in the same situation, with little room to even move. But move you do--in the most democratic fashion. Emperor Penguins--at 70 pounds, the largest of 18 species--are one of the most attentive fathers in the animal kingdom. Their involvement in the parenting process is one of total commitment. Each winter, these penguins gather in huge colonies on the pack ice of the Antarctic seas. After pairing, the female deposits a single egg and immediately returns to sea, where she can eat to replenish her energy. Meanwhile, her partner incubates the egg on his feet, where it is protected by a flap of skin and feathers. For the next 64 days he braves--in total darkness--one of the coldest periods of the year in one of the coldest climates of the world, where temperatures can plunge to -80° F. And all the while he fasts. To help cope with the cold, thousands of these birds move in close to each other, forming a large circle. Since the center of the group is much warmer, you would think that every penguin would fight to be there. But emperor etiquette dictates that no penguin advance himself at the expense of another. What looks like a stationary group is actually a slowly revolving spiral. This constant shifting formation allows each father--all the while protecting that single precious egg--some time in the cozy center, as well as at the frigid edge. By the time the chick hatches the seasonal ice has broken up, and the mother soon relieves her partner. Once he is fed and rested, the father rejoins his partner in caring for their newborn.

source: Zooba Email tags: Community, Parents