The Vertebrate Thermostat

The thermoregulatory mechanisms and adaptations we have just discussed are the controlled systems for the regulation of body temperature. These controlled systems must receive commands from a regulatory system that integrates information relevant to the regulation of body temperature. Such a regulatory system can be thought of as a thermostat. All animals that thermoregulate, both vertebrate and invertebrate, must have such a regulatory system, but here we will focus on the vertebrate thermostat.

Where is the vertebrate thermostat? Its major integrative center is at the bottom of the brain in a structure called the hypothalamus. If you slide your tongue back as far as possible along the roof of your mouth, it will be just a few centimeters below your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of many regulatory systems, so we will refer to it again in the chapters to come. If the hypothalamus of a mammal's brain is damaged, the animal loses its ability to regulate its body temperature, which then rises in warm environments and falls in cold ones.

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