Antarctic penguins must guard their eggs and chicks around the clock in crowded, noisy colonies. So they nap thousands of times a day, but only for about four seconds to stay awake, the scientists report in their paper published in Science magazine.
These "microsleeps," totaling about 11 hours a day, appear to be enough to keep parents alert for several weeks.
These penguins are like sleepy drivers, opening and closing their eyes, and they do it 24/7 for weeks at a time, said Niels Rattenborg, a sleep researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence in Germany and co-author of the new study.
The amazing thing is that they are able to function normally and successfully raise their young, he added
Chinstrap penguins, named for the fine line of black feathers that resemble a chinstrap on their faces, usually lay their eggs in seagull nests in November. As with many other penguin species, a “married” couple divides parenting duties. One parent takes care of the eggs and chicks alone, while the other goes fishing to provide food for the family.