S.F. Scientists Find Worms Live Fast, Die Young at High Temperatures — Aren't You Glad the Heat Wave's Done?

No, humans do not age more rapidly and die younger at high temperatures — one glance around the boardwalk at Miami Beach could tell you that. But U.C. San Francisco scientists recently determined that cold-blooded, C. elegans worms eat, move, digest, mature, age — and die — faster at 77 degrees Fahrenheit than 68 degrees.

The study — which you'll find sitting on your doorstep considering you subscribe to Current Biology magazine — postulates that the one-millimeter worm's internal mechanisms are far more complicated than anyone had previously thought. While people (and dogs and gerbils) maintain a constant internal temperature, cold-blooded creatures do not. The worms do, however, release steroid hormones when the heat is cranked up, which helps to somewhat regulate life functions. When scientists did away with these steroids, the worms perished rapidly.

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