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Underhairs provide insulation: Merino sheep


Merino sheep / Fir0002/Flag.. / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

The wool of Merino sheep forms an insulating layer via underhair that creates hundreds of trapped air pockets.

"Generally a dense coat of underhairs, as in the wool of a sheep, is particularly effective in temperature control, because hundreds of tiny air pockets become trapped among the hairs and make an insulating layer between animal and climate. Sheep with thick wool, such as the merinos of Australia, can stay warm in freezing weather and, conversely, stay cool in the heat of summer. In both cases the difference between the temperature at the skin and on the wool surface (a distance of 8 cm) may be 40˚C or more. In animals with less thick coats, simply erecting the hair increases the resistance to cold." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:84)
About the inspiring organism
Med_sheep_eating_grass_edit02 mouflon
Ovis aries Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: sheep (feral), Merino sheep

Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: ITIS: The Integrated Taxonomic Information System
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

IUCN Red List Status: Unknown

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Insulation for pipes and walls, versatile clothing that is comfortable at both high and low temperatures, heat transfer devices for electronics.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Building, textiles, electronics

Foy S; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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