Warm Blooded Versus Cold Blooded Dinosaurs

1533 words - 6 pages

Warm Blooded Versus Cold Blooded Dinosaurs

            At a time, scientists believed all dinosaurs were cold-blooded.  However, with a recent discovery of a dinosaur found with a fossilized heart in the northern part of South Dakota in 1993, many paleontologists are starting to think that there were some dinosaurs that were warm blooded. 

            Dinosaurs were first believed to be cold-blooded because they were thought to be related closely to reptiles which are cold-blooded creatures.  Cold-blooded animals don’t actually have “cold” blood, instead they rely on the temperature from their environment to regulate their own body temperature.  They do this by taking advantage of external heat by basking in the sun, and by lying in the shade to cool down.  A more correct term is “ectothermic” which means “heat from outside.”  On the other hand, a warm-blooded animal creates heat internally by chemical reactions inside their body.  They are able to regulate their body temperature internally instead of relying on their environment.  Author of the article, “Dinosaurs: Warm or Cold Blooded?” Beverly Eschberger explains, “endothermic animals have a continually high requirement for food to fuel the heat generation.  Providing they can find food their constantly-optimum body temperature means that they can stay active even when it is very cold” (par 3).          Even though it was believed that dinosaurs were closely related to cold-blooded reptiles, most dinosaurs had similar behaviors of a bird which is a warm blooded animal.  Believing dinosaurs were warm blooded would help explain the reason why dinosaurs were so dominant and plentiful for such a long period of time.  There are many other factors that play a vital role in this particular controversy.  Evidence shows that dinosaurs were very active creatures, moving at very high speeds.  Because warm blooded animals don’t have to rely on their environment for body temperature, they are able to hunt at any time of the day or in any season, which is a great advantage over cold-blooded animals.  Therefore this “type of intense activity needs a fast metabolism which is much too high for a cold-blooded animal.  Secondly, cold-blooded animals have a hard time living in cold climates and dinosaur fossils have been found in the colder environments” (Eschberger).  However, scientists believe warm blooded animals would have suffered from the heat in warmer climates, where many fossils have been discovered.  Beverly Eschberger discusses how dinosaurs must have been only warm blooded animals due to the factors of, bone structure, and histology, growth rates, predator to prey ratios, speed and agility, rate of evolution, similarities with birds, and insulation.  She also explains the disadvantages of being a warm blooded animal: “a much larger expenditure of energy to maintain elevated metabolism and a commensurate increase in food requirements” (Eschberger).  Just as the conclusion that dinosaurs were...

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