After meeting Pope Francis in Cuba, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, flew to Antarctica to walk with penguins.
Patriarch Kirill held prayers at a research station before taking a walk with the animals.
A picture of the 69-year-old kneeling eye-to-eye with one went viral.
Russia has 10 research stations in the Antarctic, able to accommodate up to 120 people. Patriarch Kirill visited one, the Bellingshausen research station on the island of Waterloo.
The Russian Orthodox church near the Bellingshausen station, which opened in 2004, is the only church on the continent to hold services all year round, with priests spending the winter there.
Church officials said Patriarch Kirill prayed for polar researchers, including 64 Russians who have died on polar expeditions.
The patriarch’s visit was the first ever by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to Antarctica. It followed the first encounter between a head of Russian Orthodox Church and a pope in nearly 1,000 years.
Since becoming Pope in 2013, Pope Francis has called for better relations between the different branches of Christianity.
Scientists say they have found an answer to why the penguin is unable to fly.
Researchers believe that the bird’s underwater prowess may have cost it its ability to fly.
By looking at seabirds closely related to the penguin, scientists confirmed that a wing that is good for flying cannot also be good for diving and swimming.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor John Speakman, from the Scottish University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: “Like many people, I’ve always been interested in penguins, and seeing them do these phenomenal marches across the ice, I’ve often thought: <<Why don’t they just fly?>>
“And it’s really great to be involved in the group of people that have solved it.”
There are several long-standing theories about why birds cannot fly.
Researchers believe that the penguin’s underwater prowess may have cost it its ability to fly
One idea is that some species became flightless because of a lack of predators on the ground.
“The other idea is a <<biomechanical hypothesis>>,” explained Prof. John Speakman.
“When the bird is flying and diving it has to use its wings to do two different things. The biomechanical hypothesis is that you cannot build a wing that is good at doing both.”
To investigate, the researchers looked at a close relative of the penguin: the guillemot.
This black-and-white seabird not only looks a lot like a penguin, it can swim nearly as well. But unlike the penguin it can fly.
The researchers analyzed the amount of energy that the bird was using.
They found that it could dive with relative ease, but while flying was much more tiring for the guillemot.
Prof. John Speakman said: “The energy costs are very very high. These birds have these very short wings and they have to beat them at an incredible speed to stay in the air. It is exhausting for them.”
The researchers believe that the guillemot is using so much energy, it is only just able to keep itself aloft.
They said that the bird represented a tipping point between seabirds that are able to both fly and swim, and those that are flightless.
In the past, they suggest, the penguin would have faced an evolutionary trade off between staying airborne or having agility beneath the waves.
Prof. John Speakman explained: “Basically the hypothesis is that as the wings became more and more efficient for them to dive, they became less and less efficient for them to fly.
“At some point it became so <<expensive>> for them to fly, that it was better to give up flying all together and make the wings into small flippers.”
Publisher Pearson announces agreement with German media group Bertelsmann to combine their Penguin and Random House businesses.
Under the terms of the deal, the two businesses will be run in a joint venture called Penguin Random House.
Bertelsmann will own 53% of the joint venture while Pearson will own 47%.
The two firms said last week that they were discussing a deal. A report at the weekend also said News Corporation was planning a bid for Penguin.
The Sunday Times reported that News Corp – which owns publisher HarperCollins – was prepared to make a “substantial cash offer” for Penguin, expected to be about $1.5 billion.
The tie-up between Penguin and Random House marks the first deal between the world’s big six publishers.
Publisher Pearson announces agreement with media group Bertelsmann to combine their Penguin and Random House businesses
When news of the talks emerged last week, industry observers said that such deals were inevitable as firms sought to adapt to the changing publishing landscape.
The rapid take-up of e-books means publishers are now attempting to bolster their negotiating strength. most notably with Amazon.
Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino, who is leaving the firm at the end of the year, said: “Penguin is a successful, highly-respected and much-loved part of Pearson. This combination with Random House… will greatly enhance its fortunes and its opportunities.
“Together, the two publishers will be able to share a large part of their costs, to invest more for their author and reader constituencies and to be more adventurous in trying new models in this exciting, fast-moving world of digital books and digital readers.”
Based on recent results, combining the two firms will create a business with annual revenues of about $3.8 billion.
In 2011, Random House’s revenues were 1.7 billion euros with an operating profit of 185 million euros. Meanwhile, Penguin recorded revenues of $1.5 billion and a $170 million operating profit.
The joint venture is subject to regulatory approval, but the two firms hope the deal will be completed in the second half of 2013.
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