For biggest dinos, ‘normal’ was just like us
First, we thought they were cold-blooded, like snakes and lizards. Then we learned that at least some dinosaurs were warm-blooded, like mammals. And now we’ve figured out how to “take their temperatures” by analyzing their fossil remains, and the results are remarkable.
A team of researchers, led by Robert Eagle of the California Institute of Technology, have developed a way of determining body temperature by analyzing the teeth of sauropods, those long-tailed, long-necked dinos that were the biggest land animals ever to have lived.
The result: the scientists found that these ancient animals were about as warm as most modern mammals.
One of the animals, a brachiosaurus, had a temperature of about 100.8 degrees, and a camarasaurus had one of about 96.3 degrees.
We still don’t know exactly how these animals stayed warm. They were so large that they may have retained heat better than modern animals and didn’t need the same kind of metabolism. But it’s clearer than ever, regardless, that dinosaurs were not at all the slow, lumbering creatures that they used to be portrayed as. Nor were they one-temperature-fits-all.
Just for starters, they evolved over hundreds of millions of years – much longer than we’ve been around – and they had a long time to adapt and diversify.