One of the things that make humans distinct from the rest of God’s creation, (besides the fact that we were made in God’s image), is that man has the ability for abstract thought, such as counting and mathematics.  Some animals have been taught to count, but they rarely, if ever, exceed the limit to which they have been taught or trained.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo have been studying emperor penguins and have concluded that they time their dives on the number of wing flaps.  Dr Kosue Shiomi and his team studied ten free-ranging penguins (open water) and three penguins that dove through a hole in the ice.  Their observations were made on over 15,000 dives.

Dr Shiomi reported  that the free ranging penguins that dove in open water were down for 5 to 7 minutes before starting their return to the surface.  Penguins using the hole in the ice, tended to dive for longer durations than the free ranging penguins.

When monitoring all of the dives, the team discovered that the length of the dives did not depend upon how long the penguins had been underwater, but rather on how many wing beats they have made during their dive.  On the average, the birds used 237 wing flaps before starting the ascent back to the surface.

Their conclusion almost indicates that the penguins have the capability of counting how many times they flap their wings before ending their dive and heading back to the surface.  I find this conclusion very difficult to accept and wonder if it isn’t more connected to the amount of oxygen remaining in their blood stream.  I would recommend that they need to somehow connect blood oxygen meters to the penguins and monitor the oxygen levels and see if the duration of the dive isn’t more dependent upon this than on the number of times they flap their wings.  After all, how many penguins end up drowning because they lost count while chasing fish?

Can they count?  I seriously doubt it.  Are penguins special?  You bet.  To learn about some of the special design features that help penguins survive see this Friday’s Articles 4 Kids entitled Penguins: Masters of the Antarctic Ice.

Reference

How penguins ‘time’ a deep dive, BBC Nature Dec. 8, 2011.

Noah

The story of Noah and the great Flood has been told many times, but never has it been illustrated like this. British author and illustrator, Richard Oakes, brings Noah and family to life with his intriguing depictions and beautiful landscapes. While the illustrations might be fun, the story is real and striking. After all, Noah and his family and the animals aboard the Ark were the only ones who survived. Your children will enjoy this story and also realize that God is Creator, judge and redeemer. (Preschool–Primary/Elementary) 28 pages.

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