A report of how echidnas respond to fires has revealed a previously unknown potential, one which might explain how animals survived the worldwide tragedy that damaged the dinosaurs.
Echidnas might seem like hedgehogs that are oversized having an ant-eater’s nose, but equally their spines are the types of convergent evolution. They are really monotremes, combined with the platypus, the final surviving egg laying mammals. Therefore, they offer some insight into our remote ancestors.
Professor Fritz Geiser of the University of New England, Australia’s research number, analyzed what happened when a location of echidna habitat southeast was intentionally burned within an environmental regeneration project. GPS products mentioned the small-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) possibly retreated into dense logs that just burn-in one of the most intense blazes.
However, it’s exactly what the echidnas did following he fire that was most interesting.
All but one study animal survived the fire in the prescribed burn area and echidnas remained inactive during the day(s) following the fire and substantially reduced body temperature during bouts of torpor,” Geiser and his co-authors reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society
The time after a fire can be a scant one for your bugs echidnas feast upon. Moreover, Geiser explained that predators are often attracted to fires from prey’s loss -protecting foliage.
The echidnas reduced metabolism and their body-temperature to lessen the necessity for food. The method was just like hibernation, but rather of having weeks to prepare, the echidnas could turn their metabolism along nearly without notice. Echidnas continued to use torpor for weeks after the fire, and remained in thier original, now burned territories. Geiser said the periods in torpor maybe one explanation echidnas have a very long lifespan for mammals of their size.
Geiser stressed to IFLScience that the capacity for “opportunistic torpor” is significantly more very important to small animals than versions that were large.
Small animals have much more surface area relative to their volume, so they lose heat much faster,” Geiser said.
Subsequently, they have to dramatically lessen their body conditions if they are to survive extended periods of deprivation, and can only last several days without food under standard circumstances.
“Short- echidnas are among the largest acknowledged hibernators,” the document notes. Large variety, for example bears, often participate in an even more limited decline, lowering their body-temperature by five degrees, in place of twenty or thirty, once they need to decrease energy use .