Forces and Motion

Projectile penguin poo

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

The forces involved in penguin defecation are reported in a 2003 paper: Pressures produced when penguins pooh – calculations on avian defaecation. Chinstrap and Adélie penguins can generate pressures of 60 kPa to project faeces of a viscosity resembling olive oil over distances of over 40 cm. The authors claim: ‘From a few ‘‘spot-on’’ photographs, we estimated the aperture, from which the semi-liquid excretory material is released’.

The authors conclude with a call for further research to settle the question: ‘Whether the bird deliberately chooses the direction into which it decides to expel its faeces or whether this depends on the direction from which the wind blows at the time of evacuation are questions that need to be addressed on another expedition to Antarctica’.

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