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Erect-crested penguins, the subjects of LSD's article A Superlative Penguin. Photographed by LSD

Natural History


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Over the years LSD has written several articles for the magazine Natural History, a publication of the American Museum of Natural History and one of the most widely circulated popular magazines on the natural world.

Given the focus of the magazine on popularizing research, it is perhaps not surprizing that Lloyd's articles have been about his area of scientific expertise: penguins. Three articles are reproduced at his penguin site: PenguinWorld.com.

Life in the "Fast" Lane: Adélie penguins and the coordination of nest relief

Hot Times For A Cool Bird

• A Superlative Penguin

Extract from "A Superlative Penguin"


The Antipodes Islands are in the middle of nowhere. More precisely, they are three-and-a-half days of vomiting southeast of my home in Dunedin, New Zealand. I am the sort of person who gets motion sickness on escalators, and as I lay strapped into my bunk on the Breaksea Girl, I asked myself over and over, “Why am I doing this?”

The answer was: penguins. Of the world’s sixteen species, all have been studied in detail except one. I was after the last, the erect-crested penguin. This penguin owes its anonymity more to its location than to any lack of cuteness or scientific interest. Erect-crested penguins breed on the Antipodes and on a similarly isolated group of islands a hundred miles or so to the north, the Bounty Islands. Both are home to little more than seabirds, seals, and shipwrecks.

Erect-crested penguins are, quite simply, the most striking of penguins. Upright parallel combs of blonde yellow feathers sit incongruously above their eyes, like Marilyn Monroe’s eyebrows on steroids, lending the penguins a feminine beauty. But what drew me most to these birds was that they were rumored to exhibit an extremely bizarre behavior. There had been only two prior attempts to study these penguins scientifically—one late in the breeding season, conducted about thirty years ago, and the other lasting a mere five days, during the period of egg-laying. The authors of this last study asserted, remarkably, that these penguins, which lay two eggs, deliberately eject the first egg soon after it is laid.