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9518Why 98.6 Degrees? Our Body Temperature Strikes a Perfect Balance

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  • shaji
    Jan 3, 2011
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      Why 98.6 Degrees? Our Body Temperature Strikes a Perfect Balance

      by Andrew Moseman

      Discover Magazine
      December 28th, 2010
      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/12/28/why-98-6-degrees-our-body-temperature-strikes-a-perfect-balance/

      Standard human body temperature is 98.6 degrees
      Fahrenheit: It's one of those numbers from grade school
      science textbooks-like 65 million years since the
      dinosaur extinction or nine (eight) planets in the solar
      system-that just gets stuck in your head. But why should
      it be that balmy temperature and no other?

      According to a study by researchers at Albert Einstein
      College of Medicine, the 98-degree range is in perfect
      balance.

      Every one degree Celsius rise in body temperature wards
      off about 6 percent more fungal species. So tens of
      thousands of fungi can infect reptiles and amphibians,
      but we can only be invaded by a few hundred fungi. In
      the new work, the researchers created a mathematical
      model that weighed the fungal protection benefits versus
      the metabolic cost of high body temperature. And the
      optimal temperature was 98.1, quite close to what
      evolution figured out. [Scientific American]

      The reason for mammals' hot body temperatures had been
      an open question, the scientists say. According to study
      coauthor Aviv Bergman and colleagues, while most mammals
      keep an inside temperature of about 98 Fahrenheit [37
      Celsius], most other animals have considerably lower
      body temperatures. As a result, the researchers say,
      mammals must spend more time eating to bring in energy.
      However, there may be thousands of species of fungus
      that can infect amphibians, for instance, but can't
      tolerate the hot temperatures inside our bodies.

      "This study is a good example of how mammalian evolution
      has been driven by both external biological factors and
      internal physiological constraints," said Dr. Bergman.

      Their study appears in the journal mBio.
      [moderator: the study may be found here -
      http://mbio.asm.org/content/1/5/e00212-10.full?sid=3927b57a-d112-452b-bbce-e1e1f4743e1d]