Fat badger, Skinny badger, Long badger, Short badger! An investigation into surface area to volume ratio and heat retention.

Megan Monet Mckenna, Kevin Alexander Howell, Jeremy Kaplan


Animals in the different parts of the world have adapted their body shapes to adjust to the conditions of their environment. For example, biologists have observed that there is a distinctive difference in body shapes between the Burmese Ferret Badger and the European Badger (Kuehny 2014) . They discovered that the Burmese Ferret Badger has slender body and lives in warm climate, while the European Badger has a much stockier body and lives in a much cooler environment (Kuehny 2014) . To discover what advantage certain body shapes have over others, we devised an experiment involving the heat retention of 2 different shapes of clay. In order to test this, we measured out 2 equal masses of clay and molded them into a sphere and a thin sheet. We then heated the clay up to 35 degrees Celsius and then left the clay to sit at room temperature for 6 and a half minutes before recording the final temperature of the clay. Based off of these measurements, we discovered that the clay in the shape of a sphere had retained heat much better than the sheet of clay. This suggests that animals in colder climates have adapted their bodies to shapes with lower surface area to volume ratios in order to conserve heat.

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Blake Bulard, J.B.L.C.J.C.M.C. (2014) Heat Retention vs. Shape: Using Clay Models to Test if Surface Area to Volume Ratios truly make a Difference, Journal of Introductory Biology Investigations, 1, 1-2.

Kenia C. Bicego, R.C.H.B.L.G.S.B. (2007) Physiology of temperature regulation: Comparative aspects, Comaparive Biology and Physiology, 3.

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