Gentoo penguins apparently form groups before they start to breed and may inadvertently use their dark guano to melt out rocky breeding sites earlier than they would otherwise melt.

In a time-lapse video of the Cuverville Island Gentoo penguin colony on the Antarctic Peninsula, you can see that the pattern of penguins congregating and leaving their droppings is followed by snowmelt.

Scientists studying the images say it is possible that the darker color of poop is helping to melt snow by absorbing extra heat - a process known as the Albedo effect

The footage was collected as part of Penguin Watch — a citizen science project run by the University of Oxford that invites the public to analyze imagery beamed from the Antarctic. The next year should bring hundreds of thousands more. So if you care to click through penguin pics and maybe help some science, this is the website for you.


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(beware spoilers)

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