Scientists have figured out why echidnas blow bubbles with their noses

(ORDO NEWS) — Echidnas – the mysterious relatives of platypuses – are distinguished by many unusual habits. And now biologists have unraveled the reason for one of the most amusing: why from time to time these animals begin to blow bubbles with their noses.

Echidnas are ancient and rather unusual mammals, in many ways different from their classmates.

In particular, they have a rather primitive system of thermoregulation, and they cannot sweat, lick themselves properly, or puff with their tongue hanging out, so they are forced to look for other ways to cool themselves.

In the context of global warming, the ability to maintain a stable body temperature is far from redundant, because in just half a century, the average annual temperature in Australia has risen by almost a degree.

Now scientists from Curtin University (Australia) have uncovered one of the strange ways echidnas thermoregulate.

Using thermal imagers , biologists observed wild echidnas in the bush to see how they exchanged heat with their surroundings.

In the process, scientists have discovered that in hot weather, echidnas more often than usual show a funny habit of blowing bubbles with their noses, and after each bursting of the bubble, the tip of their nose noticeably cools.

In other words, these animals use their own noses to cool themselves, in much the same way that dogs constantly lick their faces in hot weather.

Additionally, heat was dissipated on the underside of the animal’s body, where it was not covered by long stiff spines, while the upper part of the body was well insulated.

Scientists have figured out why echidnas blow bubbles with their noses 2
Thermal image of a echidna: note the dark, cool nose

Thus, despite their antiquity and primitiveness, echidnas adapt well to the changing conditions of the surrounding world.

Perhaps, despite all the trials that fell on these animals with the arrival of man in Australia, they will still be able to survive.

And then, even on a warming planet, echidnas will still busily go hunting for ants and other invertebrates, smartly licking them with a sticky tongue.


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