Subject: thermoregulation in gray whales (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 10:20:04 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 03:57:03 -0800
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: thermoregulation in gray whales (fwd)

From: "John E. Heyning" <>

The following papaer may be of interest to MARMAM subscribers:

Heyning, J.E. and J.G. Mead. 1997. Thermoregulation in the mouths of
feeding gray whales. Science 278:1138-1139.

Vascular structures for heat conservation in the tongue of the gray whale
(Eschrichtius robutus) are reported here. Numerous individual countercurrent
heat exchangers are found throughout the massive tongue.  These converge at
the base of the tongue to form a bilateral pair of retia.  Temperature
measurements from the oral cavity of a live gray whale indicate that more
heat may be lost through the blubber layer over the body than through the
tongue, despite the fact that the tongue is far more vascularized and has
much less insulation.  These heat exchangers substantially reduce heat loss
when these whales feed in cold waters.

Reprints available soon.


John E. Heyning, Ph.D.
Curator of Mammals
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90007
213 763 3404
FAX 213 746 2999

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