Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 89, Issue 9, pp 412–414

Was basking important in the evolution of mammalian endothermy?

  • Fritz Geiser
  • Nicola Goodship
  • Chris R. Pavey
Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s00114-002-0349-4

Cite this article as:
Geiser, F., Goodship, N. & Pavey, C.R. Naturwissenschaften (2002) 89: 412. doi:10.1007/s00114-002-0349-4

Abstract.

The first mammals were small, nocturnal, and presumably had low metabolic rates and were therefore probably unable to maintain a constant high body temperature throughout cool nights. How these animals, without sufficient heat production for endogenous rewarming, were able to become warm and active again before the next activity period remains unresolved. However, we discovered that, similar to reptiles, the carnivorous marsupial mammal Pseudantechinus macdonnellensis (body mass 30.8±5.0 g) uses the morning sun to rewarm from low (26.3±4.5°C) body temperatures during torpor. Our findings provide the first evidence of basking during rewarming from torpor in mammals and may provide an alternative explanation as to how ancestral mammals could have become nocturnal to avoid diurnal predators despite their small size and a low endogenous heat production.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fritz Geiser
    • 1
  • Nicola Goodship
    • 1
  • Chris R. Pavey
    • 3
  1. 1.Zoology, BBMS, University of New England, Armidale 2351, Australia
  2. 2.Permanent address: Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
  3. 3.Parks and Wildlife Commission NT, PO Box 1046, Alice Springs 0871, Australia