Although they lie at opposite ends of the Earth, the Arctic and Antarctic are both extremely harsh environments. In these regions, ocean temperatures typically remain below 0°C or 32°F - the freezing temperature of fresh water - while air temperatures plummet to -70°C (-94°F) in winter or even colder in Antarctica.
Polar animals possess a variety of remarkable adaptations for survival in these extreme environments. The thick fur of Arctic foxes and Arctic hares and the feathers of ptarmigans not only keep these animals warm, but also change color for seasonal camouflage. Antarctic cod and some other polar fish have antifreeze proteins in their blood. Polar bears' huge, snowshoe-like paws enable them to efficiently move over snow and ice. Penguins have denser feathers than most other birds with about a hundred short, broad, overlapping feathers per square inch and tufts of down near the skin. These specialized feathers keep penguins warm and dry. How are other polar animals suited for survival? Find out in this month's issue of Land, Sea & Air.