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This is why some fish are warm-blooded: sharks are among them

This is why some fish are warm-blooded: sharks are among them

Scientists have found out why some fish are warm blooded, a feature common to only 35 species. Scientists have known for over 50 years that, despite their reputation, not all fish are cold-blooded. Some species of sharks and tuna, the white shark and the Atlantic bluefin tuna, have developed the ability to heat parts of the body, such as muscles, eyes and brain.

About 35 species of fish – less than 0.1% – have this ability, which allows them to stay warmer than the water around them. Until recently, however, the reason this ability emerged was a mystery.

Some scientists believe that be warm-blooded allow fish to swim faster, as warmer muscles tend to be more powerful. Others think this allowed them to live in a wider range of temperatures, making them less susceptible to the effects of ocean warming caused by climate change.

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Assuming this possible explanation, an international team of marine biologists has come up with an answer that would unravel the mystery.

I study

A new study, published in the journal Functional Ecology, found that fish’s ability to heat their bodies offers competitive advantages: in fact, they can swim faster than their cold-blooded “relatives”. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be able to adapt better to changes in ocean temperatures than cold-blooded fish.

The team of researchers collected data from different shark and bony fish species, as well as using existing data and linking biological devices to the fins of the captured animals. The animals were caught with a hook and line and tied to the side of a boat. This allowed them to apply the devices to her and immediately release the animals.

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These devices have collected information such as water temperatures detected by fish in their habitat, the speed with which the fish have been swimming for most of the day and the depth of the water they swam in. By comparing the speed and temperature data of these warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals, the researchers were able to calculate the temperature range at which these animals swam and at what speed they swam, taking into account their weight.

It was found that warm-blooded fish can swim 1.6 times faster than cold-blooded fish. This is one of the first direct evidence of the evolutionary advantage of being warm-blooded. This extra speed offers advantages when it comes to aspects such as predation and migration. This is likely to make them better hunters or travelers. Faster swimming speeds also help fish identify prey. The faster they swim, the faster an image moves in their eyes, allowing them to process and identify, perhaps a prey, more quickly.

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It has been suggested that these warm-blooded fish may be better able to cope with changes in ambient temperature by stabilizing their body temperature. This would be useful in the current scenarios of climate change as the global warming of the oceans.

The results of this new study indicate that the ability to heat their bodies does not allow them to occupy wider ranges of temperature or depth. This indicates the stamina of warm-blooded fish to cope with changes in ocean temperatures.

Many of these animals are already threatened by ocean warming and man-made hazards. Atlantic bluefin tuna is an endangered species, while white shark is classified as vulnerable.