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Definition: Ectothermy is the ability of an organism maintain their body temperature by absorbing heat from their environment. They obtain heat either via conduction (by laying on warm rocks and absorbing the heat through direct contact, for example) or by radiant heat (by warming themselves in the sun).

Groups of animals that are ectothermic include reptiles, fishes, invertebrates, and amphibians. There are some exceptions to this rule though, some organisms belonging to these groups do maintain their body temperature above that of the surrounding environment. Examples include mako sharks, some sea turtles and tuna.

An organism that employs ectothermy as a means of maintaining its body temperature is referred to as an ectotherm or is described as ectothermic. Ectothermic animals are also called cold-blooded animals.

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