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Penguins’ Oxygen Trick: How They Survive Deep Dives

Penguins are the acrobatic athletes of the seas, and they can keep diving for long periods of time because they have exquisite control over how and when their muscles use oxygen, new research indicates.

The penguins can switch between two modes of oxygen use — either starving their muscles or giving them an extra shot of oxygen to keep them working — to achieve their amazing dives.

“It appears that there’s a little bit of plasticity or variability in what they do when they are diving,” said study researcher Cassondra Williams of the University of California in San Diego. “It’s much more complicated than we thought.”

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