Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Mammals in Winter
Name: Angelica
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
Does the temperature of a mammal stay the same as in winter when it is summer?


Replies:
Angelica,

You've probably heard of "cold-blooded" and "warm-blooded" animals. These terms refer to the organism's ability-to and maintenance-of control over their body temperature. Mammals fall into the "warm-blooded" category, meaning that their body temperatures are maintained, regardless of the season or the surroundings, within a narrow temperature range. Cold-blooded creatures' body temperatures fluctuate with much greater ranges, according to their surroundings.

You should first note that, since mammals can control their body temperature, life processes which depend on a certain body temperature can proceed. You might also have read about where things go wrong, for example, a pet left in a hot car. Though mammals can control their body temperature, the control is not complete. Though we, as humans, can sweat, and dogs can pant to release excess heat, no animal can tolerate excesses in temperature, either hot or cold, for a long period of time. Humans have been known to die both in hot and cold situations, where the body's ability to function and maintain internal control over temperature to support life functions fails.

Note also that, because cold-blooded organisms cannot maintain their internal temperature in the way that warm blooded organisms can, it is important that these animals live in environments where the temperature range is not too severe. A cold blooded animal living in the hot desert could quickly die if exposed to a sudden very cold environment, partly because of lack of the same type of control warm-blooded creatures possess. Simply, the functions necessary to support

their lives don't work in rally sever temperature extremes.

A question for you to consider: Although we, as warm-blooded mammals, have the ability to maintain our body temperatures internally, what other means do we use to insure that our bodies successfully keep that temperature stable?

Thanks for using NEWTON!

Ric Rupnik


Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory