Science Graphic of the Week: Adorable Chart Shows Why Koalas Hug Trees

June 4, 2014 10:35 AM

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When things get hot, many mammals use their body’s moisture to cool off. Humans sweat, dogs pant, and koalas lick their adorable arms and legs and cool off as the moisture evaporates. This is a great strategy, at least until it really starts to swelter on the drought-prone west coast of Australia. So, on the hottest days, koalas supplement their limb-licking with another equally-cute strategy: hugging trees.

In a new paper in the Royal Society’s Biology Letters, a team of Australian and American researchers report that as temperatures rise, koalas tend to put more of their bodies in contact with the trees they inhabit. The science behind this involves something called conductive heat transfer, wherein a...

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