Occasionally that of the urine as it leaves the urethra may be of use. More usually the temperature is taken in the mouth, axilla or groin.
Warm and Cold Blooded Animals.—By numerous observations upon men and animals, John Hunter showed that the essential difference between the so-called warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals lies in the constancy of the temperature of the former, and the variability of the temperature of the latter. Those animals high in the scale of evolution, as birds and mammals, have a high temperature almost constant and independent of that of the surrounding air, whereas among the lower animals there is much variation of body temperature, dependent entirely on their surroundings. There are, however, certain mammals which are exceptions, being warm-blooded during the summer, but cold-blooded during the winter when they hibernate; such are the hedgehog, bat and dormouse. John Hunter suggested that two groups should be known as “animals of permanent heat at all atmospheres” and “animals of a heat variable with every atmosphere,” but later Bergmann suggested that they should be known as “homoiothermic” and “poikilothermic” animals. But it must be remembered there is no hard and fast line between the two groups. Also, from work recently done by J. O. Wakelin Barratt, it has been shown that under certain pathological conditions a warm-blooded (homoiothermic) animal may become for a time cold-blooded (poikilothermic). He has shown conclusively that this condition exists in rabbits suffering from rabies during the last period of their life, the rectal temperature, being then within a few degrees of the room temperature and varying with it. He explains this condition by the assumption that the nervous mechanism of heat regulation has become paralysed. The respiration and heart-rate being also retarded during this period, the resemblance to the condition of hibernation is considerable. Again, Sutherland Simpson has shown that during deep anaesthesia a warm-blooded animal tends to take the same temperature as that of its environment. He demonstrated that when a monkey is kept deeply anesthetized with ether and is placed in a cold chamber, its temperature gradually falls, and that when it has reached a sufficiently low point (about 25° C. in the monkey), the employment of an anaesthetic is no longer necessary, the animal then being insensible to pain and incapable of being roused by any form of stimulus; it is, in fact, narcotized by cold, and is in a state of what may be called “artificial hibernation.” Once again this is explained by the fact that the heat-regulating mechanism has been interfered with. Similar results have been obtained from experiments on cats. These facts—with many others—tend to show that the power of maintaining a constant temperature has been a gradual development, as Darwin's theory of evolution suggests, and that anything that interferes with the due working of the higher nerve-centres puts the animal back again, for the time being, on to a lower plane of evolution.
Chart showing diurnal variation in body temperature, ranging from about 37.5° C. from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., and falling to about 36.3° C. from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M.
Variations in the Temperature of Man and some other Animals.—As stated above, the temperature of warm-blooded animals is maintained with but slight variation. In health under normal conditions the temperature of man varies between 36° C. and 38° C., or if the thermometer be placed in the axilla, between 36·25° C. and 37·5° C. In the mouth the reading would be from ·25° C. to 1·5° C. higher than this; and in the rectum some ·9° C. higher still. The temperature of infants and young children has a much greater range than this, and is susceptible of wide divergencies from comparatively slight causes.
Of the lower warm-blooded animals, there are some that appear to be cold-blooded at birth. Kittens, rabbits and puppies, if removed from their surroundings shortly after birth, lose their body heat until their temperature has fallen to within a few degrees of that of the surrounding air. But such animals are at birth blind, helpless and in some cases naked. Animals who are born when in a condition of greater development can maintain their temperature fairly constant. In strong, healthy infants a day or two old the temperature rises slightly, but in that of weakly, ill-developed children it either remains stationary or falls. The cause of the variable temperature in infants and young immature animals is the imperfect development of the nervous regulating mechanism.
The average temperature falls slightly from infancy to puberty and again from puberty to middle age, but after that stage is passed the temperature begins to rise again, and by about the eightieth year is as high as in infancy. A diurnal variation has been observed dependent on the periods of rest and activity, the maximum ranging from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., the minimum from 11 P.M. to 3 A.M. Sutherland Simpson and J. J. Galbraith have recently done much work on this subject. In their first experiments they showed that in a monkey there is a well-marked and regular diurnal variation of the body temperature, and that by reversing the daily routine this diurnal variation is also reversed. The diurnal temperature curve follows the periods of rest and activity, and is not dependent on the incidence of day and night; in monkeys which are active during the night and resting during the day, the body temperature is highest at night and lowest through the day. They then made observations on the temperature of animals and birds of nocturnal habit, where the periods of rest and activity are naturally the reverse of the ordinary through habit and not from outside interference. They found that in nocturnal birds the temperature is highest during the natural period of activity (night) and lowest during the period of rest (day), but that the mean temperature is lower and the range less than in diurnal birds of the same size. That the temperature curve of diurnal birds is essentially similar to that of man and other homoiothermal animals, except that the maximum occurs earlier in the afternoon and the minimum earlier in the morning. Also that the curves obtained from rabbit, guinea-pig and dog were quite similar to those from man. The mean temperature of the female was higher than that of the male in all the species examined whose sex had been determined.
Meals sometimes cause a slight elevation, sometimes a slight depression—alcohol seems always to produce a fall. Exercise