Dinosaurs ran hot and cold

Check out this article about a theory of dinosaur metabolism that you may not have heard before. It claims that dinosaurs were essentially cold-blooded but that they could rev up their metabolic rates and become warm-blooded when they needed to act fast. Basically dinosaurs could have have their cake (i.e. catch their prey) and eat it too (i.e. consume its energy at a lower metabolic rate over a long period of time). The theory chalks up the extiinction of the dinosaurs to climate change stating that this kind of system, while very efficient, is untenable in a cooler world, and that global cooling killed the dinosaurs.
I really admire the elegance of this theory. It reminds me of Steven Pinker’s book Words and Rules, in the way that it synthesizes both sides of a debate into complementary elements.

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~ by Joshing on January 12, 2007.

One Response to “Dinosaurs ran hot and cold”

  1. Perhaps not all dinosaurs were cold-blooded. I mean, in order to hunt, you would need a moderate metabolism. Plus, since dinosaurs have an erect posture, (not sprawled like reptiles) it would make it easier for the creature to breathe while moving, thus would have provided activity levels that surpassed those of spawling reptiles. Some dinosaurs fossils were found in Arctic regions, and so far no other reptilian fossils have been found, (except dinosaurs) and plus some dinosaurs had feathers, which provide insulation which suggests homeothermy.

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