By using a mathematical model that recreated the positions, movements and interactions of individual penguins in a huddle, researchers have revealed that an individual penguin only needs to move 2 cm in any direction for its neighbour to react and also perform a step to stay close to it.
These movements then flow through the entire huddle like a travelling wave and play a vital role in keeping the huddle as dense as possible to protect the penguins from the cold; the wave also helps smaller huddles merge into larger ones.
The results have been published today in the New Journal of Physics.
In a previous study, the same group of researchers studied time-lapse videos and showed that instead of remaining static, penguins in a huddle actually move every 30-60 seconds, causing surrounding penguins to move with them.
Read more at: Phys.org