Bergmann's rule is a "just-so" story of human body size.

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Bogin, Barry; Hermanussen, Michael; Scheffler, Christiane
Year of Publication: 2022
Journal: J Physiol Anthropol
Volume: 41
Issue: 1
Pagination: 15
Date Published: 2022 Apr 12
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1880-6805
Keywords: Animals, Body Size, Body Temperature Regulation, Humans, Mammals, Models, Biological, Temperature

Carl Bergmann was an astute naturalist and physiologist. His ideas about animal size and shape were important advances in the pre-Darwinian nineteenth century. Bergmann's rule claims that that in cold climates, large body mass increases the ratio of volume-to-surface area and provides for maximum metabolic heat retention in mammals and birds. Conversely, in warmer temperatures, smaller body mass increases surface area relative to volume and allows for greater heat loss. For humans, we now know that body size and shape are regulated more by social-economic-political-emotional (SEPE) factors as well as nutrition-infection interactions. Temperature has virtually no effect. Bergmann's rule is a "just-so" story and should be relegated to teaching and scholarship about the history of science. That "rule" is no longer acceptable science and has nothing to tell us about physiological anthropology.

DOI: 10.1186/s40101-022-00287-z
Alternate Journal: J Physiol Anthropol