I enquired several times over the years and was persistently told by FIDS that the embryos were being worked on…Nearly fifteen years later when I was in a position to consider the matter further and was a research director myself I went to the British Antarctic Survey (as FIDS was known by that time), expressed my concern, and asked for my embryos back saying that I would find an interested embryologist and we would work them up between us. This was agreed but when it asked for the embryos, the Survey was told that a technician had accidentally disposed of them!
…comparison of the development of the external form of the Emperor penguin with that of the chick and with that of other penguins already described, namely, Gentoo and Ring penguins by Parsons and Gentoo and Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adelia [sic]) by Waterston and Geddes, reveals a fact not yet recorded and worthy of note. In the earlier embryos the head region is relatively smaller, the neck and tail regions relatively longer, and the curvatures less well marked in penguin than in chick embryos. These features are more marked in Emperor penguin embryos and result in early penguin embryos resembling early reptilian embryos more closely than do chick embryos.
More recently, Glenister (1954) investigated a series of 16 embryos of A. forsteri. Nine of the youngest were sectioned serially and a number of features which he considered primitive were listed. Glenister concluded that penguins are the most primitive birds, and that A.forsteri is the most primitive penguin.
Wilson and others made an extremely hazardous winter journey to collect emperor penguin embryos, hoping they would show reptilian features (Cherry-Garrard 1922), but the features were not found (Parsons 1934). Glenister (1954) describes eight features of the emperor embryo which suggest that penguins are primitive birds, and the emperor the most primitive of all…A study of a series of Antarctic penguin embryos of known ages is still awaited.
The most recent description of embryos of the emperor penguin was by O’Gorman (1964) on embryos collected during the Royal Society International Geophysical Year Antarctic Expedition, 1955-59. He used the unpublished notes of J. [Nelson] Norman to calculate the ages of these embryos. Norman’s timed series of embryos, although in poor condition and small in number, enabled O’Gorman to adopt a multiplication factor of 2.9 to calculate the ages of the penguin embryos from the equivalent chick stages described by Hamburger and Hamilton (1951).
Both Glenister and O’Gorman expressed the need for an accurately timed series of developmental stages of a representative penguin. To fulfil this need a timed series of embryonic stages of P. adeliae, P. antarctica and P. papua was collected at Signy Island, South Orkney Islands, during the period January 1965 to February 1966.
American Programme for 1968-69
On June 28 the following ambitious 1968-69 United States Antarctic Research Programme was announced by the National Science Foundation in Washington
Iowa State University — Early Embryology of the Adelie Penguin
Dr. J. R. Baker and a field assistant from the Iowa State University, Ames, will continue the study of the early stages of the Adelie penguin embryology. The research will again be conducted at Hallett Station and Dr. Baker will seek to determine the effect of climate on incubation and how the Adelie embryo is formed. It is hoped that these studies may provide information on the evolutionary origin of penguins, whether from flying birds or reptiles. Following the Antarctic field work additional work will be carried out at the Iowa State University laboratories.