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Birds’ blood functions as heating system in winter


Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have discovered that bird blood produces more heat in winter, when it is colder, than in autumn. The study is published in The FASEB Journal.

The secret lies in the energy factories of cells, the mitochondria. Mammals have no mitochondria in their red blood cells, but birds do, and according to the research team from Lund and Glasgow this means that the blood can function as a central heating system when it is cold.

“In winter, the mitochondria seem to prioritise producing more heat instead of more energy. The blood becomes a type of radiator that they can turn up when it gets colder”, says Andreas Nord, researcher in evolutionary ecology at Lund University who led the study. MORE

Header image: Johan Nilsson.