Penguins Sniffing Out Relatives

When we were younger all we really thought about penguins were how cute they were and how they waddled. We didn’t really understand their environments and how smart they really are. It made me wonder, how smart are penguins?

Penguins may be able to smell kinship on others of their kind. Penguins live in the wild so being able to smell relatives could be helpful. In a study in the Brookfield Zoo showed that the penguins could pick out the odors they were familiar with and odors they weren’t familiar with. Also, they were able to decide which penguins were there relatives and ones that weren’t related to them.

Researchers have found that since penguins have such a great sense of smell they could help experts design programmers to preserve endangered species. Also, scientists have found that penguins travel for several days in search of prey, they are still able to find each other and return to their colony. Having a wonderful sense of smell also helps penguins get along with the birds nearby. Researchers have concluded that birds have a much better developed sense of smell than they thought.

Penguins use their sense of smell to sniff out their relatives, but also to find mates. Their skill is useful because they can prevent inbreeding and have healthy offspring. Researchers have found that offspring return to the same colony to nest. So, their good sense of smell can help prevent siblings becoming mates. The ability to recognize familiar scents has a potential value to naturalists.

In a experiment, penguins with mates preferred the scent of their mates over the scent of unfamiliar penguins. In the other experiment, the penguins without mates spent twice as long smelling unfamiliar penguins’ scents than the scents of their close relatives. Penguins are also able to use their sense of smell for helping reunite penguins in their crowded colonies. Their sense of smell is also helpful in being able to recognize familiar nests.

What other animals can sniff out relatives? What makes the penguins be able to smell out their relatives? How can penguins great sense of smell help naturalists?





4 thoughts on “Penguins Sniffing Out Relatives

  1. Although penguins are known for the cuteness, their sense of smell really makes them outstanding creatures. I took interest in the question that refers to wondering what makes penguins able to smell out their relatives. It turns out that penguins have preening glands that give off oil and that is how they detect the scent! Not only is this relevant to only penguins, but also the other seabirds and some species of insects as well. Insects that use oils are mostly bees and wasps. This brings the topic into an even deeper one: convergent evolution. Convergent evolution is where organisms, not closely related, adapt to similar traits as a result of similar habitats. I would venture to bet that over time more animals that have similar living standards as penguins will start to evolve into this style of living.
    Back to your last question; the penguin’s great sense of smell can help naturalists who are trying to reintroduce animals to a different area. If the naturalists would treat the area with an odor that the penguins are familiar with, then the species would be more likely to stay. This would be very useful to do in a zoo. Personally, penguins at the zoo don’t look very happy. If they were comfortable with the scent of the place they would probably adapt more easily. Penguins are much more than just cute. Personally, their multiple skills make them even cuter in my perspective!
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  2. My question that I picked was “What makes the penguins be able to smell out their relatives?” Penguins use an order to find their relatives. Researchers have found that the order samples come from the gland near the penguin’s tails. This gland is called the preen gland. They also found that the oils from the glands are rubbed on the feathers which also make the feathers water repellent. This also helps them to recognize their relatives. Another thing that these glands do, is help them to establish whether the peguin is their relative or if the peguin is their mate.

  3. This was really good. I enjoyed it because I LOVE penguins. But, you did not really have a conclusion to this. Try to rap all of it up in a paragraph instead of having another topic on the penguin be your conclusion. Also, did you contact a scientist? Or was it all just read? I’m just curious. This is a really good topic as well, because you are right. Most people did not know penguins use smell to find mates, relatives, colonies, etc. Are you doing any other research on this topic? I bet people would love to learn more about it. I know I do. Keep up the good work, and do not forget a conclusion paragraph.

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