Thermophiles are extremophiles that grow optimally at temperatures >45 °C. To survive and maintain function of their biological molecules, they have a suite of characteristics not found in organisms that grow at moderate temperature (mesophiles). At the cellular level, thermophiles have mechanisms for maintaining their membranes, nucleic acids, and other cellular structures. At the protein level, each of their proteins remains stable and retains activity at temperatures that would denature their mesophilic homologs. Conversely, cellular structures and proteins from thermophiles may not function optimally at moderate temperatures. These differences between thermophiles and mesophiles presumably present a barrier for evolutionary transitioning between the 2 lifestyles. Therefore, studying closely related thermophiles and mesophiles can help us determine how such lifestyle transitions may happen. The bacterial phylum Thermotogae contains hyperthermophiles, thermophiles, mesophiles, and organisms with temperature ranges wide enough to span both thermophilic and mesophilic temperatures. Genomic, proteomic, and physiological differences noted between other bacterial thermophiles and mesophiles are evident within the Thermotogae. We argue that the Thermotogae is an ideal group of organisms for understanding of the response to fluctuating temperature and of long-term evolutionary adaptation to a different growth temperature range.