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Survival Against All Odds: Animals of the Arctic

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Another such master of retaining body heat is the walrus.

Walrus are covered with short coarse hair that becomes less dense as they get older. Their skin which is folded and wrinkled can be up to 4 cm thick serving as a great insulator. This tough skin is the thickest on the neck and shoulders of adult males where it also serves as a defensive purpose – when these bulls spar, the thick skin is intended to resist tusk penetration.

They have a deposit of fatty tissue that is up to an astounding 15 centimeters (6 inches) thick – in winter it may make up to a third of their body mass. As well as being an excellent insulator, it also streamlines the body and is used as an energy reserve.

Their outer defenses serve as a pretty hardy armor but even this thickest of ‘winter coats’ is not sufficient when diving to depths of over 180 meters for nearly half an hour at a time, so the walrus has another trick up its sleeve. When they enter the cold arctic water they become paler because they have a mechanism that restricts blood flow to the skin in order to reduce heat loss. Conversely, when walruses are warm their skin is flushed with blood and they appear to be very red.

This post was originally published by BBCEarth.

 

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Melting Ice Drives Thousands of Walruses to Shore

 

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Photo from Brandon Christopher Warren via flickr

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88 comments

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9:39PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

What a beautiful animal.

10:43AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Thankyou......

6:03PM PST on Dec 10, 2011

wow

7:35AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

2:08AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

The Arctic can be such a cruel place during the coldest times. Emperor penguins who inhabit that part of the world are absolutely amazing in their survival. It's heart rending seeing what they go through.

5:31AM PST on Nov 22, 2011

Incredible!!

7:17PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Wow cool. Thanks for sharing :)

2:17PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Thanks for this artricle, while we are on the subject I highly recommend "An Arctic Tale" narrated by Queen Latifah, It is a four star film with a very powerful message.

2:03PM PST on Nov 12, 2011

We (humans) think we are so clever, that we don’t realize that by destroying the delicate balance of nature-in the name of progress, we are in fact “destroying” ourselves.

6:43AM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Thank you for sharing.

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