It’s a scenario where you really can’t help but imagine a dialogue between the always conspiring trio of tough and conniving penguins from the movie series Madagascar.
You know the ones, the group of three cartoon penguins: Private, Skipper, and the trio’s unofficial leader Kawalski. The three penguins are constantly working undercover to deceive, escape, or take over whatever may be challenging them at the moment.
You can almost hear Kawalkski speaking in an exasperated tone to his henchmen once they realize the humans have caught on to their scheme…it’s easy to envision the all-too-serious cartoon bird, standing there, still as can be. Giving those holding the information his classic speculative stare, one eyebrow raised.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Private,” he would say as he did in the Madagascar movies. “Cold, hard science negates even the possibility of magic.”
But, what if the answer is found to be a bit of both?
Finding Scientific Breakthrough…In Penguin Poo?
Recently, scientists have discovered a certain chemical featured in the poop of penguins, within the poo of the Gentoo penguin, to be specific.
Does this mean these much-adored flightless feathered friends are extraterrestrials right here on earth? Science points to ‘no.’ However, this substance may help scientists answer quite a few questions.
Scientists recently discovered a particular chemical exists in penguin poo – a chemical that has only been known to exist on the other side of the solar system. On Venus, the planet which is located a shocking 38 million miles away from us, to be specific. So, how did it get here? And, more importantly, why is it in the penguin poo?
The chemical phosphine exists on Venus and the other “gas giant” planets such as Saturn. However, phosphine is not a chemical that is regularly found here, on earth.
Scientists do note that it is very unlikely the adorable little Gentoo penguins flew down to earth while riding in an other-worldly spacecraft.
However, say scientists, this discovery can go a long way in understanding how life could exist on other planets. The planets whose atmospheres are made up of this mysterious chemical.
“We’re convinced the phosphine finding is real,” said Dr. Dave Clements, one of the scientists looking at this discovery. “But we don’t know what’s making it.”
Why Do Penguins Produce Phosphine?
Last year, scientists discovered traces of the chemical phosphine in layers of gas that surrounds Venus. This is especially important because Venus’s atmosphere is very similar to that of Earth’s.
So, the discovery leads scientists to wonder…what is the importance of the phosphine, and how did the chemical become so prevalent within the Venus atmosphere.
“There are some anaerobic bacteria that produce phosphine,” Clements said of the rare existence of phosphine on earth. “It’s found in pond slime and the guts of badgers and penguin guano.”
Clements adds that the production of phosphine in the penguin skat may have something to do with creating a defense against competing bacteria within the penguin’s system.
Scientists are planning to further study these gentoo penguins, who reside most commonly on the Falkand Islands; to find out why, and how these adorable little birds produce this unique chemical compound.