Scientists Discover The World's First Warm-Blooded Fish

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  1. KeeganP


    23 Jan 2008
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    Scientists Discover The World's First Warm-Blooded Fish
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  3. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

    11 Aug 2008
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    “It’s a real advantage if you’re in this deep, cold habitat and you’re swimming around with a warm body,” says Nick Wegner, an NOAA fisheries biologist and lead author on the paper. “It increases the rates of all the reactions that occur within the body—you can swim faster, see better, react faster and capture cold-bodied prey that are not able to respond nearly as quickly.”
    Opah, which resemble large, colorful tires, thrive in the deep sea and are an increasingly popular seafood. Although Wegner had been studying opah for years, he recently noticed that warm blood vessels leaving the fish’s heart wrap around cooler blood vessels returning from its gills. Later, he determined that opah generate heat by flapping their pectoral fins, and retain that heat through this dense layer of blood vessels. Opah’s internal heating system is capable of keeping the fish’s heart and brain at peak performance, even at depths of up to 1,300 feet.
    Certain tuna and shark species also retain body heat, and warm select muscles for high-performance hunting, but these species are far from warm-blooded: Most of a shark or tuna’s body (including its heart and other vital organs) remains cold. “Opah is the first fish that can circulate warm blood throughout the entire body, and that gives it some advantages over tuna and shark species,” Wegner says. “Since they can keep their entire bodies warm, they can stay down deep, continuously close to their forage base.”

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