African Penguins Use Dots to Acknowledge Mates

African penguins at Boulders Seashore, South Africa (picture from Wikimedia Commons)

26 November 2023

We people acknowledge one another by face and might typically acknowledge people in different species as nicely. For example, African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have distinctive patterns of dots on their chests that zookeepers use to inform them aside. Psychologist Luigi Baciadonna questioned if the dots functioned the identical means for the penguins themselves so he ran an experiment at Zoomarine Italia in Rome.

African penguins strolling down a ramp at Boulders Seashore, South Africa (picture from Wikimedia Commons)

Within the experiment particular person penguins have been herded right into a small corral with life-size portraits of two group members, not less than certainly one of which was his/her mate. African penguins like to hang around close to their mates so if the visiting chook stared on the mate’s portrait and gravitated towards it, he/she was recognizing the mate. The experiment had three variations:

Check #1: Correct photographs: one of many mate, certainly one of one other member of the colony. End result: On this video of Check#1 a male penguin, Gerry, is offered with a picture of his accomplice, Fiorella, on the left and certainly one of group member Chicco on the suitable. Discover what he does.

Check 2: Two photographs of the mate: one correct, one with dots digitally eliminated. End result: The birds spent extra time trying on the mate picture with dots.

Check 3: Dots digitally faraway from each photographs: mate and one other member of the group. End result: The birds not appeared to acknowledge their mate. There was no distinction in how lengthy they gazed on the mysteriously spotless portraits.

Quiz! Now that I do know African penguins have distinctive chest dots I found that the penguin pictured beneath can also be in a photograph above. Which one is he?

African penguin at Boulders Seashore, South Africa (picture from Wikimedia Commons)

Go to the Nationwide Aviary in Pittsburgh to take a look at the African penguins’ dotted chests at Penguin Level.

Penguin Level exhibit on the Nationwide Aviary in Pittsburgh (picture from the Nationwide Aviary)

Learn extra concerning the research at Science Direct: African penguins make the most of their ventral dot patterns for particular person recognition

(credit are within the captions)

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