Friday, November 13, 2009

Was T-Rex Hot Blooded? PLoS ONE News

PLoS ONE published this article online on November 11, 2009:

Pontzer H, Allen V, Hutchinson JR, 2009 Biomechanics of Running Indicates Endothermy in Bipedal Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7783. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007783

It has been viewed nearly 1900 times in two days, and downloaded 450 times as of this moment. Open access has obviously benefited a great number of readers interested in this topic!

Here's a bit from the authors' methodology and results summary:

"Here we describe two new biomechanical approaches for reconstructing the metabolic rate of 14 extinct bipedal dinosauriforms during walking and running. These methods, well validated for extant animals, indicate that during walking and slow running the metabolic rate of at least the larger extinct dinosaurs exceeded the maximum aerobic capabilities of modern ectotherms, falling instead within the range of modern birds and mammals... Our results support the hypothesis that endothermy was widespread in at least larger non-avian dinosaurs. It was plausibly ancestral for all dinosauriforms (perhaps Ornithodira), but this is perhaps more strongly indicated by high growth rates than by locomotor costs."

Read Peter Ward's Out of Thin Air for a helpful review (as of 2006) of the evolution of endothermy, and access a very brief discussion of dinosaur endothermy written for the general public at the University of California Museum of Paleontology DinoBuzz.

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