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Sweating aids thermoregulation: mammals


Horse sweat causing lather / William Thom.. / LicenseCC-by-nc-nd - Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives

The sweat glands of many mammals aid thermoregulation through evaporative cooling.

"Sweat glands play an extremely important part in temperature control. Shaped like a tube, knotted at the bottom and opening out of the epidermis at a 'pore', sweat glands secrete a colourless liquid which evaporates on the surface of the skin removing excess heat…There are two kinds of sweat glands: apocrine, associated with hairy skin, and eccrine, associated with smooth. Apocrine glands seem to be concerned mainly with producing scented secretions, and are progressively replaced in the more advanced mammals - gorillas, chimpanzees, and especially man - with eccrine glands, whose secretion dilutes and spreads that of the apocrine glands." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:79)

"From the evidence of comparative mammalian physiology, we suggest that the very common apocrine sweat gland is not primitive but is both specialized and efficient as a cooling organ in an animal with a heavy fur coat and relatively slow movement. The remarkable thermal eccrine sweating system of humans probably evolved in concert with bipedalism, a smooth hairless skin, and adaptation to open country by the ancestors of H. sapiens." (Folk and Semken 1991:185)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Evaporative membranes to dehumidify buildings, membranes that avoid clogging, clothing that allows for heat dissipation while exercising in cold weather.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Building, water

Foy S; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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Folk GE; Semken A. 1991. The evolution of sweat glands. International Journal of Biometeorology. 35(3): 180-186.
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