01 July 2011
Posted in DinoDigs
Scientists have discovered a way to take the temperature of dinosaurs. But how you ask? After all, they have been extinct for millions of years. As it turns out dinosaur teeth are good for more than just the act of chewing. Researchers were able to measure the dinosaurs’ temperatures because body temperature makes a difference in the amount of different types of carbon and oxygen that collect in the tooth enamel.
What is surprising is that the temperature of dinosaurs turns out to be almost the same as ours! They found a long-necked Brachiosaurus had a temperature of about 100.8 degrees F and the smaller Camarasaurus had a temperature of about 98.3 degrees F. People average around 98.6 degrees F. So, wouldn’t that mean that dinosaurs are warm blooded like us? Not necessarily.
When dinosaurs were first discovered, the theory was that they were lethargic and cold-blooded, but recent evidence suggests they may be more likely to be warm-blooded, which would allow them to be more active, like the velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies.
Although the debate still remains whether or not dinosaurs were warm blooded or cold blooded, lead researcher Robert A. Eagle of the California Institute of Technology suggests, “our analysis really allows us to rule out that they could have been cold [blooded], like crocodiles, for example.” He also adds, “this doesn’t necessarily mean these large dinosaurs had high metabolism like mammals and birds…they could have been ‘gigantotherms’ and stay warm because they were so large.” Large body masses are good at keeping temperatures constant.
According to Roger Seymour of the University of Adelaide, Australia, the findings “confirm that dinosaurs were not sluggish, cold-blooded animals. However, the debate about dinosaur metabolic rate will go on, no doubt, because it can never be measured directly and paleoscientists will often seek evidence to support a particular view and ignore contrary evidence.” The verdict remains to be seen.