Does microbial activity in the gut of organisms contribute to their thermoregulation?
I've been wondering about the role of exothermic bacteria, present in the digestive system, and their role in thermoregulation.
Exothermic bacteria make compost piles hot
-- sometimes over 160 degrees Fahrenheit. These same bacteria are already present in digestive systems of many animals. It might be fruitful to view the digestive system as a kind of compost pile (peristaltic action effectively “turns” the pile?). The gut is a good insulator, too, so what if these bacteria create heat that contributes to the host organisms metabolic heat? In fact, it may be that the host body has to cool
the intestines, since these exothermic bacteria can generate so much heat.
We know that cows and other ruminants have bacteria that essentially cause fermentation in the rumen
, and fermentation is an exothermic process.
There's an ongoing debate
on whether dinosaurs were warm or cold-blooded, though that distinction is itself over-simplified
, since there's evidence for both. What if their digestive systems functioned as hot composters, providing them with an internal source of heat energy for accelerated metabolism, while retaining mostly cold-blooded physiological features? This might go some way in explaining the polar dinosaurs
This potentially has broad implications. I've been googling around this topic, and haven't found anything. Looking for input, and any links to more information.
I should be working on getting a job, but I can’t help but look into things like this which become interesting to me, for some reason.