London, May 3 (ANI): A University of Veterinary Medicine ecologist and his research team in Vienna have claimed that elephants use 'hot spots' scattered around their bodies to stay cool.
They also use their giant ears to stay cool, thermal cameras have revealed.
According to Nicole Weissenbvck, by directing their blood supply near to the surface of small patches of skin scattered around their bodies, elephants can lose heat rapidly, allowing them to fine-tune their internal temperature.
Scientists have long been puzzled by temperature regulation in elephants. Typically, animals with large bodies tend to retain more heat because, relative to their bulk, they have a small surface area for heat to escape from.
"Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammals on earth today. They are called pachyderms [from the Greek for "thick skin"] because of their supposed thick and insensitive skin. Our study clearly shows that this is only a myth - in fact the elephant's skin must have more regional concentrations of vascular networks that has previously been appreciated. It is a fine-tuning mechanism in heat regulation," The Telegraph quoted Weissenbvck, as saying.
The researchers took thermal images of six African elephants at Vienna Zoo as they moved between outdoor and indoor environments to see how the temperature on their skin surface would change.
The researchers found up to 15 "hot spots" scattered all over an elephant's body surface, in addition to large patches on the ears.
The study, which is published in the Journal of Thermal Biology, shows how these patches expand as the air temperature increases and more blood flows nearer to the skin surface.
Subsequent experiments showed that elephants in the wild use the same "thermal windows" to control their body temperature.
Elephants have two additional ways to stay cool: ear flapping, which creates a breeze, and bathing, which cools the creatures when the water evaporates from their skin. (ANI)