Tags: warmblooded | dinosaurs | coldblooded

Dinosaurs Warm-Blooded or Cold-Blooded? Neither, Researchers Say

By    |   Friday, 13 Jun 2014 10:59 AM

Dinosaurs were long assumed to be cold-blooded because of their lizard-like appearance, but scientists now say they were more warm-blooded than previously thought.

According to Reuters, a new article published in latest issue of the journal "Science" analyzed 21 species of dinosaurs, focusing on their metabolisms as indicated by body mass and growth rings found in their fossilized bones, similar to those found in trees. Researchers were stunned when they found out that the ancient creatures were neither cold- or warm-blooded, but rather somewhere in between.

"Our results showed that dinosaurs had growth and metabolic rates that were actually not characteristic of warm-blooded or even cold-blooded organisms," explained University of Arizona evolutionary biologist and ecologist Brian Enquist.

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"They did not act like mammals or birds nor did they act like reptiles or fish. Instead, they had growth rates and metabolisms intermediate to warm-blooded and cold-blooded organisms of today. In short, they had physiologies that are not common in today's world."

In speaking with NPR, John Grady, an ecologist at the University of New Mexico, called it the "Goldilocks" zone.

Grady said that the dinosaurs lived in a world filled with reptiles, who were cold-blooded and therefore sluggish whenever the temperature dropped. By having blood just a little bit warmer, dinosaurs weren't so affected by their environment — giving them an advantage.

"You know, if you are a little bit . . . warmer-blooded than a reptile," he said, "essentially your muscles fire faster; your nerves fire faster; you are a more dangerous predator."

By not being too warm, said Grady, the dinosaurs also kept some of the advantages of being cold-blooded, like needing less food to sustain themselves. "And that means maybe they could get a lot bigger than a mammal could be, which wouldn't be able to eat enough if it was the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex," he said.

The study looked at predators like Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, long-necked Apatosaurus, duckbilled Tenontosaurus, and bird-like Troodon, comparing them to a variety of modern-day animals.

Dinosaurs began appearing roughly 230 million years ago and died off in an asteroid disaster 65 million years ago.

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Dinosaurs were long assumed to be cold-blooded because of their lizard-like appearance, but scientists now say they were more warm-blooded than previously thought.
warmblooded, dinosaurs, coldblooded
381
2014-59-13
Friday, 13 Jun 2014 10:59 AM
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