What is a Filoplume?
At the base of the large feathers that are easy to see are three smaller, supporting feathers that work together to insulate the body.
Afterfeather: small, downy plumes that attach to the main feather that help insulate against the cold water.
Plumules: small, soft feather that attaches directly to the penguin’s skin. Wilson’s study found there were four times as many plumules as afterfeathers, which was a surprise to the experts.
Filoplumes: small, narrow shaft barely a centimeter long that sits at the base of the feather and detects when a feather has become displaced and needs to be preened.
Before the 2015 study, filoplumes were only thought to exist on birds that fly, not penguins, emus, and ostriches. However, a study proved that penguins need to preen their feathers to prevent freezing the same way that flying birds need to preen their feathers to maintain proper flight stability.
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SLJ Staff. “And Tango Makes Three’ Tops Most Challenged List, Again.” School Library Journal. April 12, 2011. Accessed: January 30, 2013.
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Walsh, Michael. “Scientists Solve the Mystery of Penguins’ Incredibly Fast Underwater Swimming Speed: A Secret Layer of Bubbles.” Daily News. October 20, 2012. Accessed: January 19, 2013.
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