Written by the BBCEarth Team
Adaptation is fundamental for a species to survive, especially in a hostile environment like the Arctic, where inhabitants are faced with six months of perpetual darkness and snow and ice laying claim to every inch of the land. What kind of extraordinary animals survive in such harsh terrain, and more importantly, how do they do it?
During winter in the Arctic, temperatures can drop to a bone-chilling −50°C (−58 °F). Rather than going into hibernation however, some animals will stick out the winter and use their cold-conquering adaptations to survive. One such animal that has done this is the arctic fox or the snow fox as it is also commonly known.
Ranging far and wide in the arctic and alpine tundra, these jackals of the north, so-called because of their propensity to scavenge on polar bears’ kills, have a woolly coat that has the best insulating properties of any mammal. Other adaptations for life in the arctic include small, heavily furred ears and a short nose. Having a smaller surface area reduces heat loss. They also have fur on the soles of their feet as well as increased blood circulation to the feet which literally stops their paws freezing to the ice!
Photo from Brandon Christopher Warren via flickr
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