MORE This aerial image taken from a quadcopter reveals an Adélie penguin breeding colony on Heroina Island, Danger Islands, Antarctica. This year, scientists announced an incredible discovery by looking at poop stains in satellite images — 1.5 million Adélie penguins were living and thriving on a little patch in Antarctica surrounded by treacherous sea ice called the Danger Islands. It turns out that these elusive seabirds had lived on the islands undetected for at least 2,800 years, according to new, unpublished research presented Dec. 11 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C. [ In Photos: Adélie Penguins of East Antarctica ] It all started when a group of researchers spent 10 months doing what they thought was a pan-Antarctic survey of Adélie penguins by looking through every single cloud-free satellite image that they had of the southern continent. "We thought that we knew where all the [Adélie] penguin colonies were," said Heather Lynch, an ecologist at the Stony Brook University, during the news conference. That is, until a colleague at NASA developed an algorithm that made the detections automated. That’s when it "bing bing bing," started flagging all of these pixels from the Danger Islands that "we […]

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