Warm or cool predatory dinosaurs?
For most of this centur!, dinosaurs were accepted as “good reptiles,” with low, Walking dinosaur costume Iizard-like metabolic rates. There was a lot of circular reasoning involved in this. Some books said dinosaurs were “cold-blooded” because they were reptiles, then said they were reptiles because they were cold-blooded! But these days the metabolic systems or physiologies of dinosaurs are a point of great contention.
It is difncult enough to measure the metabolic rates of living animals, much less ones that have been dead for sixty-five-plus million years. Realistic dinosaur costume In fact, some paleontologists and physiologists believe that attempts to estimate the physiologies of fossil animals are futile. They would rather we limit our efforts to more “doable” things such as phylogenetics and functional anatomy. I compare these people to Comte, the philosopher who in 1835 argued that we would never be able to tell what stars are made of because we cannot directly sample them. As it happened, astronomers were just then developing the techniques to indirectly “sample” stars by their light spectra. mechanical dinosaur Most of what we do in paleontology is also via indirect observation. I note in Chapter 8 how uncertain dinosaurian relationships may always be, for we can no more watch how dinosaurs evolve into new species than we can read a dinosaur’s blood pressure or take its temperature. In fact, we may be able to do a better job understanding dinosaur physiology than their relationships. Much as astronomers sample stars by long distance, we can get estimates of dinosaurs’ physiologies via paleontological time travel.