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Jun 28 2012

Maybe dinosaurs aren’t so cool after all

Most kids, and a few of us “older” kids, may think dinos are way cool. But a new study says no: they were hot, as in hot-blooded. And that may go for some of the larger ones:

Nature — From museums to Hollywood films, dinosaurs are portrayed as highly active animals, but how they maintained this lifestyle isn’t clear. For decades, palaeontologists have debated whether the physiology of non-avian dinosaurs was akin to that of today’s cold-blooded reptiles or warm-blooded mammals. An important clue has now been uncovered — not in Triceratops and its relatives, but in herbivorous mammals.

Part of the reason dinos are so fascinating is because they are unlike any animals we know of today. Some dinos may have been a little bird-like, others more like modern day reptiles. But using birds and lizards to understand the diversity played out over 150 million years of dino evolution would be like trying to understand everything from snow leopards to blue whales when the only living mammals you had ever seen were tree sloths and fruit bats. There are certainly similarities between bats and leopards, more so than say, tigers and garden snails. But bats and sloths would only get you so far.

To understand the behavior of animals never observed, understanding their basic metabolism is critical. This study and others like may shed light on that, and bring the vast constellation of those extinct critters we call dinosaurs a tiny bit closer to life in the process.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    kewball

    I call bullpuckey. No way that carnivore could off a Triceratops just by a brief nibble on the back of the neck. S/he’d need either to get to the soft underside or gnaw on it for ages.

  2. 2
    busterggi

    I believe I read this ‘news’ about 30 years ago.

    We really need to purge out-dated science books from our libraries.

  3. 3
    Stephen "DarkSyde" Andrew

    There have been published findings that dinos were warm-blooded, those have received some press. But there’s also been signs they were not, at least not like mammals. It seems that dinos weren’t like anything alive today. They may have been able sprint like lions and breathe like birds, and then stop on a dime and shut down like a snake on a cold cloudy day. The evidence is that mixed, it could be intepreted that dinosaurs were just really freaking different, and that’s one of many things that makes them so fascinating.

  4. 4
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    kewball:
    You might be right if the triceratops weren’t likely hungry and exhausted as well.

  5. 5
    laurie

    Films like this have always annoyed the hell out of me. What predator roars a warning before charging? Don’t say lions, their roar is to flush prey out for the rest of the pride to kill. I know the roaring is supposed to make them scarier, but it really doesn’t work.

    Why would a starving predator with a meal in front of it attack another potential meal before eating the first?

    The dinosaur portrayals in any given film could be good, why are many of them so bad?

  6. 6
    blindrobin

    But were dinos white meat, dark meat or both? In either case I bet they were tough.

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