I was wondering if there are organisms which have compartments(inside the body) with different body temperatures. To clarify are there organisms which have tissue/organs which are surrounded by something (other cells, tissues) which have an other temperature.I'm not talking about fluctuation in body temperature, such as in ectotherm organisms. I have never heard about something like this and nor I could find information or articles about this (the reason why this question doesn't provide much background research). However I'm still wondering if there are organisms like this (or at least come close to this)?

Ps. please edit this question or comment if you can provide more background information regarding this topic

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ How broad is your definition of "compartment"? For example, in animals with external, scrotal testes, that compartment is a few degrees colder than core body temperature. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Dec 4, 2016 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ I was more looking for compartments inside the organism, I will clarify that in my question thankyou!! @kmm $\endgroup$
    – KingBoomie
    Dec 9, 2016 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ By compartments, are you referring to the term cavum or cavity? example, thoracic cavity, abdominal cavity $\endgroup$
    – user27740
    Dec 9, 2016 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not specifically refering to something just in general so yes it could be a cavum/cavity for example @Hallur $\endgroup$
    – KingBoomie
    Dec 9, 2016 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ A number of predatory fish - swordfish, for instance - keep their brains & eyes warmer than the rest of their body: newscientist.com/article/… $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Dec 9, 2016 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


For most of the multicellular organism; different part of body would exist in different temperature; however there are more extreme/ drastic examples too.

Bombardier beetles; a group of beetles; that have a specialized reaction chamber in the body; where they can produce a hot and noxious reaction-mixture. They project it towards the enemy; and can throw by bending their pygidial region to wide range of directions. They do it as a defense mechanism.

Wikipedia image

Wikipedia image of bombardier beetle. They are some members from the tribes Brachinini, Paussini, Ozaenini, Metriini of family Carabidae.

The reaction mixture can attain a temperature up to 100°C , more than enough to cause thermal death of normal protoplasm. But the reaction take place in a specialized compartment inside their body... and nothing else happen to the life of the beetle.

Here are some image of the anatomy of bombardier beetles (from here) pygidial glands within a Bombardier Beetle pygidial glands within a Bombardier Beetle; highly diagrammatic.

enter image description here more detailed diagram of the gland, however, diagrammatic.

Realistic this is a more realistic diagram of the gland in bombardier-type carabid beetles; whole diagram showing forms of this glands in other-type carabid beetles is available in the main website.

This paper includes a simplified diagram of chemical reaction in the chamber. enter image description herereaction summary.

Here is an image from BBC showing bombardier beetle in action.in action

Reference: Wikipedia


As @kmm suggested, the scrotum is a common "compartment" that is commonly a few degrees lower than the core temperature.

A key concept is the core temperature. That's only in the core.

I'm not sure if I understand your use of "compartments". Can an arm or a leg be a compartment? By definition, it is. A compartment is a section. A body part fits that definition.

Decades ago, I realized something fascinating about body parts and body temperature.

I had rescued a pregnant Siamese cat. In the litter she birthed, every kitten was a light ivory color everywhere. Over the next few weeks, the limbs, ears, tail, and face of each kitten darkened. At the time, my field was Molecular Biology, and my theory was simple: coloration in this breed was due to a temperature-sensitive enzyme. The kittens had come from an environment that had a constant (the core) temperature throughout: the uterus. Therefore a lower-temperature-sensitive enzyme would be inactive. After birth, their extremities were cooler, allowing the enzyme to produce melanin in the newly growing hair.

While I couldn't prove it in my cats, after some searching I found that someone else had already proven it in similarly colored rabbits.

So, yes, different sections (or compartments) of the body can have different temperatures.

See Tyrosinase mutations associated with Siamese and Burmese patterns in the domestic cat (Felis catus), Lyons LA, et al. Anim Genet. 2005.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand your kitten example because if all kittens were completely Ivory then this wouldn't suggest a different body temperature at different compartments (if only half of the kitten was black and the other half is Ivory I would understand this example)? The fading is more likely a transition from "cold" to "warmer" instead of compartilization $\endgroup$
    – KingBoomie
    Dec 4, 2016 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RickBeeloo - I've added an explanation. Does it make more sense now? $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 19:53

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