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Am J Physiol. 1981 Jan;240(1):R3-9.

Comparison of the "mammal machine" and the "reptile machine": energy production.


Standard metabolism and body composition were measured in Amphibolurus nuchalis and Mus musculus (a reptile and mammal with the same weight and body temperature). The metabolic capacity for energy production was assessed in liver, heart, brain, and kidney in the lizard and mouse by two methods: measurement of mitochondrial enzyme activity (cytochrome oxidase) and measurement of both mitochondrial volume density and membrane surface area. Both methods gave a three- to sixfold greater capacity for energy production in the mammal compared to the lizard which is less than the eightfold difference in their standard metabolisms. The difference in energy production capacity was not due to any single parameter but was a summation of several smaller differences. The mammal had relatively larger internal organs than the reptile, their organs had a greater proportion of mitochondria, and their mitochondria had a greater relative membrane surface area. These differences, it is suggested, may be due in part to different thyroid function in reptiles and mammals.

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