Insulation & Radiators

Insulation & Radiators

Living things survive environments as extreme as the Sahara Desert and the Arctic Ocean. But how do they defend themselves from the elements? With innovations from insulation to evaporation, life endures.

Imagine cooling yourself with your giant ears, like the Fennec Fox, or staying warm by letting your feet get cold, like Eider Ducks. Specialized body parts can either release or gain extra heat using surface area, shape, and circulatory systems.

Size matters, too, and surprisingly, animals living in colder climates are bigger than their counterparts in warmer areas, despite having less food and harsher living conditions. Larger animals stay warm more efficiently because they have a greater proportion of volume (which retains heat) to surface area (which loses heat).

Some species also use coloration to regulate temperature. For example, certain butterflies that live in cold places are dark around their thorax to help their flight muscles absorb more heat from the sun.

But no matter the coping mechanism, animals still wrestle with the same basic principle that managing temperature means controlling the flow of heat from a body’s surface.