Science News

Dinosaurs not cold-blooded killers after all

Sun, 15th Nov 2009

Scientists have uncovered new evidence that dinosaurs might well have been warm blooded. A paper in PLoS one this week by Washington University scientist Herman Pontzer and two scientists from the UK's Royal Veterinary College, Vivian Allen and John Hutchinson, argues that if the models used to explain energy consumption during movement for large mammals today are applied to dinosaurs there's no way these massive animals could have got about without being warm blooded. The team effectively reconstructed the metabolic rates for 14 bipedal dinosaur species by using what we know about the animals' stature and locomotion from fossils. Tyrannosaurus rex

The only way they could make these beasts energetically viable, based on how much muscle it would take to move these animals around, was if they were endotherms; in other words warm blooded, like us and their modern-day relatives the birds. Being warm-blooded brings with it the advantage of being more agile, faster and potentially quicker-witted, which might go some way, the team point out, to explaining the massive evolutionary success that these creatures enjoyed during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and continue to enjoy now in a feathery, flying form!

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