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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.
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist
When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro.