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Penguin feathers record migration route

Penguin feathers record migration route

Science
How do you trace where a penguin has swum across the vastness of the Southern Ocean?The surprising answer is from the chemistry of a single tail feather.Incredibly, specific compounds in penguin feather proteins allow scientists to track the birds’ migration over many hundreds of kilometres. The plumage records a kind of "chemical passport" stamped with a signature of the locations visited.Dr Michael Polito, of Louisiana State University, US, told BBC News: "You can say: 'penguins are where they eat,' because a geochemical signature of their wintering area is imprinted into their feathers."Two species of penguin - Chinstraps and Adélies - are the focus of the study published this week in Biological Letters. These animals both live on islands surrounding Antarctica, and migrate extensively