UT researchers figuring out what’s behind penguin waddle

FILE (NBC/EBU)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Researchers from the University of Texas are joining English scientists to figure out what’s behind nature’s strangest stride: the penguin waddle. Penguins stand up tall like humans but have short legs. The researchers are studying the flightless birds at the London Zoo using a running track with sensors to measure the individual movements.

UT Ph.D student James Proffitt says this research will show how the penguins evolved — and maybe explain why penguin species vary so much. Proffitt is working with John Hutchinson of London’s Royal Veterinary College.

“The biologists set up a kind of corridor, a long wooden platform with Lucite walls, and began fitting it with metal force plates—two small, about the width and length of a shoebox, and one large, about three times bigger,” says The Jackson School of Geosciences website. “‘They’re like fancy 3-D bathroom scales,’ Hutchinson told me, designed to measure force side to side, front to back, and downward.”

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