Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hot-blooded dinosaur fight, Round 217

Who you callin' cold-blooded?

Nothing, not even the status of Flores people, has consumed science the way three-plus decades of debate over whether dinosaurs were endothermic (warm-blooded) or ectothermic (cold-blooded) has. Evenr since Desmond and Bakker wrote the key popular books (The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs and The Dinosaur Heresies, respectively), scientists have loosed volleys of facts and opinions at one another. There is general agreement that dinops were more mobile and active than we once thought, but is endothermy required for an active lifestyle in a big animal? The latest argument comes from a new direction, arguing that growth rings in the bones of dinosaurs look more like what we see in mammals (which grow more steadily than the start-and-stop development common in reptiles) and that, with the single exception of sauropods (so huge that normal rules might not apply to them in a sense: they may have been effectively warmed just by the movements of thse tons of muscles), dinosaurs show a common pattern consistent with behind warmblooded.
COMMENT: I've always liked the warm-blooded idea: these huge animals drifting through plain and swamp like ground-dwelling blimps never made much sense to me.  Having read dinosaur books since the first grade, I naturally have formed some layman's opinions. Most of the dinos were warm-blooded, and by the way T. rex was an active predator, not some ridiculously over-armed scavenger! 

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