Animal Studies

Waikiki Aquarium and copyright Snell Infrared

Infrared view of a seal and a turkey. The brighter colors denote warmer areas. The darker colors associated with the seal's blubber and the turkey's feathers reveal how these protective covers retain the mammals' bodily warmth (that is, it reduces the heat escape).
One of the most efficient ways to locate animals (warm-blooded mammals, at least) in darkness is to search for them in the infrared. Like humans, animals radiate more infrared "light" than their surroundings, and hence are easily detected at thermal IR wavelengths. Infrared photography and video cameras are used for population counts and to study animal behavior and movement in the dark without disturbing the creature's habitat. Infrared images can also used to study how animal's bodies regulate heat. Studies are made of how animals insulate themselves from heat loss using feathers, fur, and blubber. Veterinarians often use infrared imaging to study the health of animals and to look for soft tissue injuries, which tend to warm the affected muscles. The use of such non-invasive diagnostics reduces animal stress during medical exams and is especially useful when examining large beasts.
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The Infrared Zoo

The Camera that Caught a Leopard

In this image,, you can clearly "see" the difference between a warm blooded and a cold blooded animal. The boy holding this lizard is warm blooded and can generate his own body heat. Lizards, on the other hand, are cold-blooded and their body temperatures are close to that of their environment. Notice the difference in temperature between the cool lizard and the warm human hand.

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