Ever wonder why our body temperature is 98.6 °F (37 °C)? Scientists at Yeshiva University discovered the answer.
Turns out that our normal body temperature is the perfect balance of being warm enough to ward off fungal infection but not so hot that we need to eat all the time to maintain metabolism:
"One of the mysteries about humans and other advanced mammals has been why they are so hot compared with other animals," said study co-author Arturo Casadevall, [...] "This study helps to explain why mammalian temperatures are all around 37° C."
The research builds upon earlier work by Dr. Casadevall showing that the number of fungal species that can thrive and therefore infect an animal declines by 6 percent for every 1° C rise in temperature. This means that tens of thousands of fungal species infect reptiles, amphibians and other cold-blooded animals, but only a few hundred harm mammals. Such protection against fungal infection, Dr. Casadevall has speculated, could have been crucial for the triumph of mammals following the age of dinosaurs.