For ducklings, there’s good reason to stay in line

Physics offers a good reason for ducklings to stay in line. Credit: Elfleda

There’s a good reason to get your ducks in a row. It all comes down to physics. In a study in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, researchers looked at the advantages of a female duck leaving a wake for her ducklings to ride in.

“Earlier measurements of duckling metabolism showed that the youngsters saved energy when swimming behind a leader, but the physics behind that savings wasn’t known,” writes Science News. In the latest study, a team used computer simulations of the waves that ducks create and calculated how the ducklings benefited. In just the right spot, they found, ducklings experience 158% less wave drag than when swimming alone, and each duckling passes it along to the next in line.

Read more from Science News, and watch a video below to see ducklings slowly working it out (and why ducks aren’t physicists).