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A Minnesotain view of insulation



While performing the great Minnesota tradition of Ice Fishing, I got an insight 
into the dynamics of insulation and metabolism.  We had the ice shack toasty 
warm, but realized that we had left something crutial back in the truck (the 
beer).  Drawing the short straw, I left the shack, and walked the 1/4 mile to 
the truck.  When I got back, my body (as well as the jacket) had adjusted to 
the cold.  After I stepped inside, I noticed that it took a while for the heat 
to reach through the jacket to warm my body (opening the jacket took care of 
that).  Some ten minutes later, I stuck my hands in my pockets, and discovered 
cold air inside.

The moral being that insulation is like a thermos: it keeps hot things hot and 
cold things cold.  So, for an ectotherm, being insulated is a disadvantage, as 
it keeps heat from reaching the body, and keeping the animal cold for a longer 
period of time.  So, if we can show traces of insulation on a fossil form, it 
practically requires that the specimen was not fully ectothermic.

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

***
When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro.