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Why tree-hugger koalas are cool

That adorable sprawl on a tree could save an animal during a heat wave

7:05pm, June 3, 2014

KOALA AIR CONDITIONING  Thermal imaging (right, cooler temperatures in purple) reveals that a tree is cool enough to help a lolling koala get through a heat wave. 

Sprawling against the trunk of a tree could provide more than half the cooling a koala needs to survive a typical hot summer day.

Koalas don’t have dens to retreat to during a heat wave. Panting and licking their fur may bring some relief, but it uses precious water and raises the risk of dehydration. Flopping against bark that’s cooler than air turns out to be a previously unappreciated part of coping with heat, says ecologist Michael Kearney of the University of Melbourne in Australia.

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