Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Big Questions

Yes folks, we answer them here . . the big questions . . .first in what might become a series . . then again it might not. I've been too busy, I mean can't be bothered, I mean I've got nothing . . so here's something I stole, I mean purloined, I mean borrowed, I mean . . .



Why don't penguin's feet freeze on ice?

As cute as tuxedo-patterned penguins would look sporting oversize loafers, footwear is not part of the dress code for these warm-blooded birds. Bare feet prevent these stately ice emperors from burning up in their suits.

Most of the penguin body is kept cozy by its warm, waterproof plumage. Beneath the skin, blubber adds to the insulation. Together, fat and feathers work so well that a careless bird might overheat on a sunny day. The naked beak and feet allow heat to escape, helping the body to maintain a steady temperature.

A little biological ingenuity keeps the extremities from icing over. Certain arteries in the penguin leg can adjust blood flow in response to foot temperature, feeding the foot just enough blood to keep it a few degrees above freezing. Not that all species need such a system—on the equator, Galápagos penguins contend with sweltering sun and heat with much help from their cool feet.

So now you know . . .so you can stop knitting sox for penguins.

7 comments:

Thriftcriminal said...

Cool.

Nick said...

N-ice one. What clever little things they are. Always wondered why there wasn't steam rising from the top of their heads. I didn't know all that, but I do know why they're half black and half white....

Anonymous said...

Wow, I wish I had biological ingenuity so not to have to wear daggy socks on the floorboards in Winter! Next Baino, why do my fingers go wrinkly but not my tummy when in bath water for too long?

Baino said...

Thriftciminal: "Ice cold"

Nick: love a penguin I do. Huddling little do dads who harbour eggs on their flippy bits.

Anony: Well birdy brain . . there's one for the next time I have nothing to post. Indeed, why do feet and hands go prunish yet the rest stays smooth . . . mmmmm? Research on the reaction of moist phalanges commences!

Grannymar said...

Right, I need blubber and feathers then I'll be as warm as toast instead of an ice block!

Quickroute said...

Very Cool! Have you sen the documaentary "March of the Penguins"? - Amazing stuff!

Baino said...

Poor GrannyMar, I know you feel the cold. You need a pair of sheepskin ugg boots ... not pretty but very warm.

Quickroute: Yep seen it. Great doco for a hot day! I have a bit of a thing for Penguins, the kids bought me Happy Feet last mother's day!