From Panting to Pooping, 8 Weird Ways Animals Keep Cool | Science
(© Steve Bardens / Corbis)
Sweating is perhaps the most famous way to cool off, largely because it’s the preferred method for humans. Sweat is mostly made up of water with a little potassium, salt, and other minerals. As it evaporates from the skin, it dissipates heat and lowers the overall body temperature. Sweat is produced in sweat glands that are activated by the hypothalamus, the area of your brain that controls certain important biological processes, including your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. The average human body has between two and five million sweat glands.
Humans aren’t the only animals with sweat glands, but we are one of the few species that produce a lot of sweat to cool off. While sweating on a hot day can lead to uncomfortable encounters, some scientists believe it has given us an evolutionary advantage as well. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, argues that our ability to sweat enables us to run longer distances at higher speeds than other animals. This meant that humans could hunt game on the hottest days of the day when other predators were forced to rest. Other experts, like Pennsylvania State University’s anthropologist Nina Jablonski, say that sweating enabled more efficient cooling, which enabled us to develop bigger, hotter brains.
In addition to higher primates (apes, apes, and humans), horses are among the only other animals in the world that sweat profusely. This makes them one of the few people who could challenge people in a marathon.