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Penguins VisionRecent research indicates theres more to penguins than meets the eye If youve every wondered what it would be like tobe able to see as clearly under water as you can onland just ask the nearest penguin Most aquaticanimals are short-sighted on land Mostterrestrial animals and that includes us arefar-sighted under water But researchers havediscovered that penguins can apparently see equallywell in both environments because of the uniquestructure of their eyes Penguins have to be able to see well under waterbecause their diet consists mainly of planktonmolluscs crustaceans and the inevitable fishThrough a special slowing-down of their heart ratetheyre able like many other diving animals tostay submerged long enough to search out and chasewhatever catches their fancy On dry land its a different story-or has been upto now Waddling along on their flat little feeteyes fixed intently on the ground penguins appearmyopic inefficient and generally out of place In fact the reverse is true During a recent stayon the Falkland Islands a Canadian researcherdiscovered that penguins are able to recognizeindividuals and navigate the rocky terrain on whichthey live quite well Long of body and short ofleg they probably poke their heads forward as anaid to balance And as for looking at the groundtheyre merely-like us-keeping an eye on wheretheyre going The human eye is adapted for aerial vision whichis why scuba divers-or even you and I in the localswimming pool-must wear goggles or a face mask tore-introduce air in front of our eyes in order tosee clearly Among vertebrates in general the bird eye isfrequently described as the most efficient Itssuperior quality combined with the fact that alarge number of birds-cormorants pelicansseagulls even ducks as well as penguins-get theirfood from water obviously deserved research beyondthat possible in a controlled environment such asan aquarium or zoo Professor Jacob Sivak of theUniversity of Waterloo and his associate ProfessorHoward Howland of Cornell University had a chanceto do that research recently Their trip had butone purpose-to study the
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