Scientists recently discovered how echidnas — one of only two monotremes (mammals that lay eggs) left in the world, along with the duck-billed platypus — cool themselves off in the hot temperatures where they live in Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. While they live in hot and dry areas, they are also heat sensitive — with some research showing that 95-degree Fahrenheit heat can kill them. So how does an echidna stay cool in such weather? By blowing snot bubbles out of their noses!
Researchers at Curtin University in Australia used thermal vision technology to understand how echidnas in the Dryandra Woodland and Boyagin Nature Reserve (105 miles southeast of Perth) adapt to their environments, and specifically how they stayed cool in hot weather. They were able to study footage of 124 echidnas for a year. Ashley Strickland of CNN explains:
The researchers didn't expect to find echidnas blowing mucus bubbles as a way to regulate their internal temperature.
"We observed a number of fascinating methods used by echidnas to manage heat and which allow the animal to be active at much higher temperatures than previously thought," said lead study author Dr. Christine Cooper, senior lecturer in Curtin's School of Molecular and Life Sciences, in a statement.
"Echidnas blow bubbles from their nose, which burst over the nose tip and wet it. As the moisture evaporates it cools their blood, meaning their nose tip works as an evaporative window."
Read more about the study here, and watch some adorable echidnas in action, below.