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How the African elephant’s cracked skin keeps it cool

时间:2018-10-09 作者:admin

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The skin of African elephants has is covered in a cracking pattern that resembles damaged asphalt, dry mud in the sun, or Earth’s polar landscape. This pattern helps the elephant retain water on its surface and cool off during hot days in the savanna. Now, Swiss researchers have determined that the pattern isn’t created by shrinking of the skin (as some have suspected) but rather to a genuine fracture of the elephant’s outermost layer of the skin.

Credit: Pixabay.

Unlike humans, the African elephant doesn’t have sweat or sebum glands. This means it can’t keep its skin moist and flexible all by itself, nor can it cool off, which can make things very difficult for an elephant living in a dry and warm habitat. Luckily, the animal has evolved a clever solution: its wrinkled skin traps water and mud which both cools the elephant by evaporation and also serves to ward off parasites.

The applied mud doesn’t fall off easily because the skin is sculptured by a fine pattern of millions of channels that allow the spread and retention of 5 to 10 times more water than a flat surface.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Michel Milinkovitch, a professor at the Department of Genetics and Evolution at the Université de Genève, now reports that the African elephant’s skin channels are cracks caused by the local bending stress of the epidermis. Three leading factors are responsible for this effect: hyper-keratinized and shedding deficient skin that grows on a lattice of millimetric elevations.

The researchers showed through computer simulations that the bending stress accumulates in between different levels of skin elevation as the skin thickens until cracks form, rejecting the ‘cracking by shrinking’ hypothesis

本文源自: AG环亚娱乐