Unlike whales and polar bears, sea otters don’t have a thick insulating layer of blubber, and their celebrated fur — the thickest in the world, with up to 2.6 million hairs per square inch — is not enough on its own to keep them alive in an ocean that can hover on the edge of freezing. Muscles generate heat as they contract, but scientists have known for some time there is another way that muscles can help animals keep warm, a cellular process with the delightful name of proton leak. Inside almost all animal cells, little pill-shaped organelles called mitochondria break down sugar molecules to extract energy. (Mitochondria are often called the powerhouses of the cell.) During the final stage of this process, protons pop through a membrane. In biology textbooks, the protons helpfully trickle through tiny spinning pores, driving them like water wheels to make adenosine triphosphate, a compound that serves as the molecular battery powering cellular processes.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Go to Source of this post
Author Of this post: msmash