Turns Out Koalas Hug Trees To Keep Cool

This is a highly important scientific finding.

1. Scientists have discovered that koalas don’t just hug trees to look cute.

Who knew?

2. Researchers at the University of Melbourne have found that koalas are actually using the trees to keep cool during hot weather.

Briscoe et al. / Biology Letters / Via rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org

The researchers used thermal cameras to find that in hotter weather the koalas were more likely to hang around on the lower, cooler parts of the tree. They also tended to hug the cool tree trunk tighter in hotter weather, trying to better transfer heat from themselves to the tree.

They tracked 37 koalas with radio collars, then used a “portable weather station mounted on an extendable pole” to record microclimatic data right next to where the koalas were probably trying to have a nice little nap.

Koalas suffer high mortality rates during extreme heat, so finding ways to keep cool during events like the heat wave Australia experienced earlier this year is important to the animals. The work is part of a bigger project investigating how climate change is affecting land animals in Australia.

3. The scientific paper, published in the journal Biology Letters, makes no mention of whether humans legs work as well as tree trunks.

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Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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