By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer | January 08, 2014 05:05pm ET
An emperor penguin colony in Antarctica.
Credit: British Antarctic Survey
Emperor penguins may be one of the most awkward birds on land, but it turns out they can clamber up Antarctica's steep ice cliffs and start new breeding colonies if their sea ice homes disappear, a new study of the birds' behaviors finds.
"This is a new breeding behavior we're witnessing here," said Peter Fretwell, a geographer with the British Antarctic Survey and lead study author. "This has totally taken us by surprise. We didn't know they could go and breed up on the ice shelves," Fretwell told LiveScience.