Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Skin hair skims heat off elephants

Date:
October 10, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Body hair in mammals is typically thought to have evolved to keep us warm in colder prehistoric times, but a new study suggests that it may do the opposite, at least in elephants. Epidermal hair may have evolved to help the animals keep cool in the hot regions they live in, according to new research.

This is skin hair on African and Asian elephants.
Credit: Myhrvold CL, Stone HA, Bou-Zeid E. What Is the Use of Elephant Hair? PLoS ONE, 2012; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047018

Body hair in mammals is typically thought to have evolved to keep us warm in colder prehistoric times, but a new study suggests that it may do the opposite, at least in elephants. Epidermal hair may have evolved to help the animals keep cool in the hot regions they live in, according to new research published Oct 10 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Conor Myhrvold and colleagues at Princeton University.

Though the idea that low surface densities of hair can help dissipate heat is a popular concept in engineering, the biological and evolutionary significance of sparse skin hair is not well known. The authors studied the effects of skin hair densities in Asian and African elephants on thermoregulation in these animals, and concluded that elephant skin hair significantly enhances their capacity to keep cool under different scenarios like higher daytime temperatures or less windy days.

Their research suggests that the dense body hair of furry animals helps with insulation, but as skin hair grows sparser, a tipping point is reached where, for animals such as elephants, skin hair begins to help release heat from the body rather than retain it.

According to the authors, elephants have the greatest need for such heat loss to maintain a constant body temperature, since they are large terrestrial mammals that live in hot climates. Their results are the first to suggest that animal hairs could play a role in heat dissipation that could be beneficial to certain animals, like elephants. Elie Bou-Zeid, corresponding author on the study, says "Sparse hair increases heat dissipation from the skin of elephants and help the largest terrestrial mammal meet its thermoregulation needs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Myhrvold CL, Stone HA, Bou-Zeid E. What Is the Use of Elephant Hair? PLoS ONE, 2012; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047018

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Skin hair skims heat off elephants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172120.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, October 10). Skin hair skims heat off elephants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172120.htm
Public Library of Science. "Skin hair skims heat off elephants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010172120.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins