In which animal kingdom are arctic animals

: Penguins, polar bears, whales: how animals protect themselves from the cold

How do they manage not to freeze? The polar bears, the penguins, the arctic springtails and bowhead whales, the ice fish? The latter, for example, have no red blood cells. And since colorless blood is thinner, it doesn't freeze as easily. Read here what the other polar inhabitants are doing against the freezing cold.

Gentoo penguin

There is no pleasant bathing weather in Antarctica: When the penguins leave the sea and waddle on land, they are confronted with temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius. So why doesn't the water on your body freeze to ice? Pirouz Kavehpour from the University of California and his colleagues have found that gentoo penguins use several physical tricks to prevent this. On the one hand, they lubricate their plumage with an oil that they produce in special glands. On the other hand, there are tiny, air-filled pores in their feathers. Both together make the penguin surface extremely water-repellent. When it gets wet, spherical drops form on it, which lose heat very slowly. Before they have time to freeze, they roll off the plumage.

Bowhead whale

Representatives of his species are said to have the largest layer of fat in the entire whale family. This so-called bubbler can be more than 40 centimeters thick and isolates the animals very effectively. However, good insulation sometimes becomes a problem: If the muscles produce a lot of heat during strenuous activities, the brain threatens to overheat. But the whales prevent this with a special organ under their palate, which Alexander Werth from Hampden-Sydney College in the USA and his colleagues only discovered in 2013. This rod-shaped corpus cavernosum maxillary is built similarly to a penis: if blood flows into its tissue, it swells. If the animal then swims through the sea with its mouth open, the organ gives off a lot of heat to the water.

Crocodile ice fish

The crocodile ice fish, which are native to the Southern Ocean, are the only vertebrates that completely dispense with red blood cells and the red blood pigment hemoglobin. Because such colorless blood is thinner and less likely to freeze. In return, however, it cannot transport oxygen as effectively. In order to compensate for this disadvantage, the animals have acquired a particularly large heart and wide veins, a large amount of blood and high blood pressure in the course of their evolution. What scientists are particularly interested in about the colorless ice fish is the genetic information for blood formation. Doctors hope that by analyzing them, they will better understand the origins of human blood diseases and develop new treatment options.


It is no coincidence that polar bears, up to 3.40 meters in length and weighing around 800 kilograms, are the largest land carnivores on earth. Because a large body has a relatively small surface area in relation to its volume and therefore loses little heat. In addition, the polar hunters wrap themselves in thick fur that covers the entire body except for the tip of the nose and the soles of the feet. The outer hairs are hollow and therefore form an additional insulating air cushion. Under the fur lies a black skin that absorbs incident sunlight and converts it into warmth. Underneath there is a five to ten centimeter thick layer of fat. Overall, this insulation works so well that polar bears remain hidden from the heat sensors of infrared cameras.

Arctic springtail

The animals, which are only a few millimeters in size, have a special trick in store for surviving the polar winter: They can be freeze-dried before the cold season. The inconspicuous springtails crawl around in the moss cushions of the Arctic in summer. But when it gets too uncomfortable for them in autumn, they find shelter and begin to shrivel. Your body loses large amounts of water until there is only a seemingly lifeless shell left. But as soon as the conditions get better again, they swell to their old size, dust off their bodies and just go on living. Scientists hope to one day be able to use this feat for medical purposes - for example to store tissues and organs for transplants.