Postural, pilo-erective and evaporative thermal windows of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We identify for wild, free-living short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) a novel evaporative window, along with thermal windows, and demonstrate the insulating properties of the spines, using infrared thermography. The moist tip of their beak, with an underlying blood sinus, functions as a wet bulb globe thermometer, maximizing evaporative heat loss via an evaporative window. The ventral surface and insides of the legs are poorly insulated sites that act as postural thermal windows, while the spines provide flexible insulation (depending on piloerection). These avenues of heat exchange likely contribute to the higher-than-expected thermal tolerance of this species. Our study highlights how technological advances that allow for non-contact measurement of thermal variables allow us to better understand the physiological capacity of animals in their natural environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20220495
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Postural, pilo-erective and evaporative thermal windows of the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this