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Dinosaur Body Temperatures Determined from Isotopic (13C-18O) Ordering in Fossil Biominerals

Science  22 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6041, pp. 443-445
DOI: 10.1126/science.1206196

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Abstract

The nature of the physiology and thermal regulation of the nonavian dinosaurs is the subject of debate. Previously, arguments have been made for both endothermic and ectothermic metabolisms on the basis of differing methodologies. We used clumped isotope thermometry to determine body temperatures from the fossilized teeth of large Jurassic sauropods. Our data indicate body temperatures of 36° to 38°C, which are similar to those of most modern mammals. This temperature range is 4° to 7°C lower than predicted by a model that showed scaling of dinosaur body temperature with mass, which could indicate that sauropods had mechanisms to prevent excessively high body temperatures being reached because of their gigantic size.

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