Now, nineteenth-century science was self-consciously preoccupied with “progress.” (Mechanical dinosaur costume)The Industrial Revolution had wrought such rapid advancement in machines, small and great, that mid- Victorian scientists could see no end to the upward perfection of technology. And Darwinism, in its vulgar “survival of the fittest” version, seemed to preach that there was a natural law guiding the continuous perfection of life forms through all geological time. (real dinosaur costume rides)Which was most perfect? Homo sapiens, of course—especially a male, English, Protestant Homo sapiens. And so our class, the Mammalia, had to be the highest zoological grouping. Birds were close because, like mammals, they had insulation and metabolic control of their body temperature.
Progress also meant freeing oneself from the uncomfortable whims of the environment—the sudden changes in heat and light. The poor reptile could bask happily on a rock in the sun but slipped back into a chilled torpor when clouds blotted out the warming rays. Not so the bird or mammal whose body furnaces burned so fast and so continually that blood and flesh remained warm. And Victorian biochemistry had progressed far enough to discover that most vital processes function best when the body temperature is nearly constant. (Animatronic dinosaur)English homes—upper-class ones, at least—were enjoying the dependable warmth of coal-fed furnaces, devices that finally made the damp winter climate cozy and comfortable. Clearly the highest zoological classes were the ones that had evolved an analogous metabolic adaptation.
The zoologists of the last century knew well that there was a case for a crocodile—bird relationship and an even better case for a dinosaur—bird kinship. But the scientists of the time nonetheless slipped into the habit of calling dinosaurs “reptiles!’—cold-blooded, scaly creatures that laid eggs.