From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published January 7, 2014 11:57 AM

Wild deep-freeze warming techniques

With much of the northern hemisphere embedded in a deep freeze, one wonders how cold weather animals remain alive through frigid temperatures. Energy supplies are drained in the cold making it necessary to have a good solid cache of warming survival skills. Some animals have adaptive features and other animals have found adaptive techniques. Some of their creative adaptations are listed below:


Penguins:  The penguin's outer surface of feathers drops to temperatures lower than the surrounding air creating an insulating buffer. Further, to reduce heat loss from their feet by 15%, penguins will gently lean back picking their toes off the ice. 

Alpine Marmots: Beyond temperature, another added difficulty in the cold is the lack of food. As a result, many animals like Alpine Marmots simply go to sleep for a few months until food supply becomes abundant and temperatures tolerable.

Japanese macaques: This primates' habitat reaches the farthest north of any other besides human. Part of their habitat though, includes man-made hot springs, which has become part of their daily warming exercise.

Bison: In Yellowstone National Park the Bison take advantage of hot springs as well. But because temperatures of these springs are too hot for submersion, bison idle on the side to absorb radiating heat.

Humpback whale: Muscle movement is one way to stay warm but it also consumes much energy. Instead, the humpback whale stores extra fat in the form of blubber, to insulate it from chilly temperatures. 

Polar Bear: The polar bear's trifecta of techniques include an underlying black hue on its skin to absorb sun, followed by a fluffy white fur coat for warmth and a coarser exterior fur made up of individual water repelling hollow hairs.

Many cold-blooded animals die in subzero temperatures because the water in their blood turns to ice requiring specialized adaptive techniques. 

Icefish: The Antarctic Icefish evolved antifreeze proteins to flow through its blood and keep bodily tissues from freezing. 

European common lizard: This lizard generates glucose and glycerol in its blood to prevent ice crystal development. Additionally for added energy, it creates specialized mitochondria for it cell membranes.

Burmese python: The mother python produces body heat by flexing muscles to warm her nest and keep her eggs warm.

Red-sided garter snakes: Taking the sleeping thing one step further, the red-sided garter does it with company by gathering a few dozen of its closest buddies for a cozy party. Once awake, they make use of the closeness by mating.

Read more at Discovery News.

Penguin Image via Shutterstock.

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