That’s Hot: Studies Reveal Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs

Say goodbye to the days when we all knew dinosaurs were cold-blooded wonderlizards who lazed about trying to warm up in the midday sun. U.S. and German scientists have developed a technique for accurately measuring the body temperature of dinosaurs. The study of 11 fossilized sauropod teeth reveal that the Brachiosaurus ran a toasty 38.2ºC (about 100.8ºF) while the Camasaurus, a slightly smaller but related sauropod, tipped the mercury to 35.7ºC (96.3ºF).

So what does this mean?  John Eiler, a professor of geology and geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and co-author of the study, weighs in on the implications.

“It’s reasonable to surmise that their enzymes were working efficiently, because they were at a temperature that we know that animal enzymes operate efficiently at and therefore they should have been more vigorous,” he said. “What we don’t know is whether they had the metabolic machinery to regenerate energy efficiently the way mammals and birds do, and therefore have endurance.”

Given this kind of development in dinosaur biology, I think it’s clearer all the time that we barely understand anything about our favorite prehistoric creatures. Of course, every big breakthrough like this puts us one step closer to a pet miniature Stegosaurus, and I’m all for that.

[source] [image]

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11 Responses to That’s Hot: Studies Reveal Warm-Blooded Dinosaurs

  1. Hmm, I always wondered why they would be cold blooded, I know reptiles are cold blooded, but birds aren't. given the fact that some of these were real long distance runners, it would have been more unlikely that they were cold blooded.. Nevertheless, a fundamental biological proof of this is very nice, shows us our scientists are alive and kicking. Next step: transfer a chicken into a dino.. GO

  2. Hmm, I always wondered why they would be cold blooded, I know reptiles are cold blooded, but birds aren't. given the fact that some of these were real long distance runners, it would have been more unlikely that they were cold blooded.. Nevertheless, a fundamental biological proof of this is very nice, shows us our scientists are alive and kicking. Next step: transfer a chicken into a dino.. GO

  3. Um, "cold-blooded" doesn't actually mean their body temperature is lower, you know.  It just means they need an external heat source to keep their body temperature up.

  4. Yeah, all these data show is that large dinosaurs were warm. We already knew this. All large reptiles are warm. Heck, most small reptiles are warm. The technique they are using is neat for showing us the temperature at which that portion of the body was when the bone (or enamel in this case) was forming, but it says nothing about the actual physiology of the animals. Heck we have hand held lizards alive today that regularly maintain body temperatures of 41-45 degrees C (106-113 degrees F). The utility of this technique will be in large scale studies of multiple body parts from numerous individuals. Then we might be able to say something about dinosaur physiology (e.g. what their preferred body temperature was).

  5. Yeah, all these data show is that large dinosaurs were warm. We already knew this. All large reptiles are warm. Heck, most small reptiles are warm. The technique they are using is neat for showing us the temperature at which that portion of the body was when the bone (or enamel in this case) was forming, but it says nothing about the actual physiology of the animals. Heck we have hand held lizards alive today that regularly maintain body temperatures of 41-45 degrees C (106-113 degrees F). The utility of this technique will be in large scale studies of multiple body parts from numerous individuals. Then we might be able to say something about dinosaur physiology (e.g. what their preferred body temperature was).