Maxilloturbinals do not correlate with body temperature or metabolic rate

The ability of most mammals to maintain a constant and high body temperature has been a crucial adaptation for them to thrive in diverse environments. Some scientists previously suggested that the anterior nasal cavity’s structures, known as maxilloturbinals, played a significant role in this adaptation. However, a study published in Nature Communications, co-authored by biologist Stan Braude from Washington University in St. Louis, challenges this notion.

The study analyzed CT scans of over 300 mammal heads from international museum collections and found that the size of these maxilloturbinal structures does not directly correlate with metabolic rate or body temperature. Braude emphasized that mammals have various adaptations to cope with their specific environmental conditions, making it oversimplified and unjustified to determine an animal’s ability to maintain body temperature solely based on the presence and size of maxilloturbinals. While this research provides valuable insights, it does not alter how Braude teaches “Human Anatomy and Physiology” at Washington University.

Variations of the relative surface area and shape of the maxilloturbinal between mammalian species. Barplots represent the relative surface area of the maxilloturbinal in 310 species. Blue and red circles respectively represent the minimum and the maximum values from the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) and the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). 3D representations of the skull and the maxilloturbinal in several species. Barplots: cream = terrestrial, red = arboreal, blue = amphibious, black = subterranean, and green = flying species. Not to scale. Credit: Nature Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39994-1

Source: Washington University in St. Louis

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