The car-tire-size opah is striking enough thanks to its rotund, silver
body. But now, researchers have discovered something surprising about
this deep-sea dweller: It’s got warm blood.
That makes the opah (Lampris guttatus) the first warm-blooded fish every discovered. Most fish are exotherms, meaning they require heat from the environment
to stay toasty. The opah, as an endotherm, keeps its own temperature
elevated even as it dives to chilly depths of 1,300 feet (396 meters) in
temperate and tropical oceans around the world.
“Increased temperature speeds up physiological processes within the
body,” study leader Nicholas Wegner, a biologist at the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries
Science Center in La Jolla, California, told Live Science. “As a result,
the muscles can contract faster, the temporal resolution of the eye is
increased, and neurological transmissions are sped up. This results in
faster swimming speeds, better vision and faster response times.”…
I can hear all you bird fanatics out there revving your engines, but that’s not just my personal opinion (ok, it mostly is). Still, there are some sound scientific facts in there.
Look, if you compare the effortless soaring of something like a turkey vulture to the frenetic flapping of a little brown bat, of course the bird is going to seem better off. But most people haven’t spent a lot of time around bats, or watching bats fly. Because they generally fly at night.
I spent a summer mist-netting for bats in rural Ohio once, and let me tell you, your opinion on bat flight prowess changes after you have seen a bat fly within a few centimeters of a vertical wall of net and completely reverse direction in midair. All in a split second.