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Variation in rhinarium temperature indicates sensory specializations in placental mammals

Gläser, Nele and Kröger, Ronald H.H. LU (2017) In Journal of Thermal Biology 67. p.30-34
Abstract

The rhinarium, a specialized nose-tip characterized by an area of naked and wet skin around the nostrils, is a typical mammalian structure. The type and amount of innervation suggests a sensory role and morphological diversity implies so far unidentified species-specific functional specializations. Rhinaria also vary in temperature and this may be related to the functions of these sensory organs. We performed a comparative study on rhinarium temperature in order to learn more about possible correlations with phylogeny and ecology. We have concentrated on terrestrial carnivorans and large herbivores, but also investigated a number of other species, some of them lacking typical rhinaria. We used infrared (IR) thermography to determine... (More)

The rhinarium, a specialized nose-tip characterized by an area of naked and wet skin around the nostrils, is a typical mammalian structure. The type and amount of innervation suggests a sensory role and morphological diversity implies so far unidentified species-specific functional specializations. Rhinaria also vary in temperature and this may be related to the functions of these sensory organs. We performed a comparative study on rhinarium temperature in order to learn more about possible correlations with phylogeny and ecology. We have concentrated on terrestrial carnivorans and large herbivores, but also investigated a number of other species, some of them lacking typical rhinaria. We used infrared (IR) thermography to determine nose skin temperatures from safe distances and without interfering with the animals’ behavior. In all groups studied, the temperature of the rhinarium/nose-tip decreased with decreasing ambient temperature. At all ambient temperatures, rhinarium temperature was lower, by 9–17 °C, in carnivorans compared to herbivores. Glires (rodents and lagomorphs), haplorrhine primates, and omnivorous Perisso- and Artiodactyla were intermediate. In strepsirrhine primates, rhinarium temperature was similar to ambient temperature. Our findings in Strepsirrhini are consistent with the hypothesis that their rhinaria have an indirect role in chemical communication. Warm rhinaria in herbivores suggest a tactile function, while the low skin temperatures on carnivoran rhinaria may make the skin particularly sensitive to warming.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Mammals, Nose, Senses, Skin, Thermography
in
Journal of Thermal Biology
volume
67
pages
5 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85018746383
  • wos:000403743300005
ISSN
0306-4565
DOI
10.1016/j.jtherbio.2017.04.010
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8ceeb0c0-375e-4134-9e3d-33cc750556a6
date added to LUP
2017-05-23 13:58:24
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:04:58
@article{8ceeb0c0-375e-4134-9e3d-33cc750556a6,
  abstract     = {<p>The rhinarium, a specialized nose-tip characterized by an area of naked and wet skin around the nostrils, is a typical mammalian structure. The type and amount of innervation suggests a sensory role and morphological diversity implies so far unidentified species-specific functional specializations. Rhinaria also vary in temperature and this may be related to the functions of these sensory organs. We performed a comparative study on rhinarium temperature in order to learn more about possible correlations with phylogeny and ecology. We have concentrated on terrestrial carnivorans and large herbivores, but also investigated a number of other species, some of them lacking typical rhinaria. We used infrared (IR) thermography to determine nose skin temperatures from safe distances and without interfering with the animals’ behavior. In all groups studied, the temperature of the rhinarium/nose-tip decreased with decreasing ambient temperature. At all ambient temperatures, rhinarium temperature was lower, by 9–17 °C, in carnivorans compared to herbivores. Glires (rodents and lagomorphs), haplorrhine primates, and omnivorous Perisso- and Artiodactyla were intermediate. In strepsirrhine primates, rhinarium temperature was similar to ambient temperature. Our findings in Strepsirrhini are consistent with the hypothesis that their rhinaria have an indirect role in chemical communication. Warm rhinaria in herbivores suggest a tactile function, while the low skin temperatures on carnivoran rhinaria may make the skin particularly sensitive to warming.</p>},
  author       = {Gläser, Nele and Kröger, Ronald H.H.},
  issn         = {0306-4565},
  keyword      = {Mammals,Nose,Senses,Skin,Thermography},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  pages        = {30--34},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Journal of Thermal Biology},
  title        = {Variation in rhinarium temperature indicates sensory specializations in placental mammals},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2017.04.010},
  volume       = {67},
  year         = {2017},
}