I’m watching Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back. The scene towards the beginning, where Han saves Luke by slicing open the just-dead snow camel thing and stuffing Luke inside, has me curious.
Would this really work? If you’re, say, lost in the arctic, and happen to see a polar bear keel over and die, could you slice it open and curl up inside for shelter? I’m imagining that, with a large animal, the residual heat would be useful for a bit, but once it dropped beneath your body temperature, the combination of cold and wet would just make things worse.
Not that I’m planning on going hiking through northern Canada with terminally-ill polar bears anytime soon, but it’s always good to know.
A large carcass will lose heat fairly slowly, especially if insulated by a pelt as thick as a polar bear’s. And being wet won’t matter too much unless the moisture is evaporating and taking heat with it. If you can close up the body cavity well enough so you are not exposed to the wind, this shouldn’t be too much of a factor. So sheltering in a carcass will give you a lot longer survival time than if you were exposed directly to a howling cold wind.
Insulation is insulation, really. Unless the animal was frozen through (i.e. an ice-cycle), I would have to imagine that it’s just going to be like having a really thick coat, or a bunch of dirt piled on you.
Not the same, but I’ve gutted quite a few deer at temperatures below 10 °F. My hands our always cold at that temperature, so after cutting the deer open, the first thing I do is thrust my hands inside to warm them. Works like a champ.
I read somewhere of this actually being done, where two people lost in a frozen wilderness killed their mounts to be warmed by their carcasses. Unfortunately, the heat did not last very long, according to the survivor’s account. Sorry I can’t remember more details.
One of the soldiers who was a consultant for MAS*H told the actors a story which Father Mulcahey retold in the interview episode. Apparently, when it got too cold in the OR and their hands began to cramp, the surgeons would sometimes warm their hands over the open incisions of their patients.
I believe it was a combination of being pushed to exhaustion (being ridden too far/long) and having to stay out in a blizzard instead of curling up in a ball under the snow or whatever tauntauns do when the weather is exceptionally foul.
And Guinastasiamentioned this, but it just until Han could put up a shelter, not overnight.