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

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Science  23 Jun 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1206196


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 based on differing methodologies. Here, 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 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 due to their gigantic size.