Ancient eggshells reveal an unexpected connection between dinosaurs and humans. Scientists have always wondered if dinosaurs were cold blooded, just like alligators, or warm blooded. The answer seems to be revealed by some old eggshells.
In the past, paleontologists believed that dinosaurs were cold blooded, just like alligators. Cold blooded animals are entitled ectotherms. They have to take their body heat from the surrounding environment. Endotherms, which include humans, have the ability to internally produce the heat they need.
Since birds are endothermic and dinosaurs have bird ancestors, they are also thought to be endothermic.
The study was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications by Robert Eagle from the University of California. Eagle analyzed the chemicals found in some ancient eggs by means of a procedure which had previously been used on teeth analysis in order to approximate the temperature. These measurements can be made by analyzing two isotopes: carbon 13 and oxygen 18.
Before applying the method on ancient eggs, scientists tested it on nowadays animals. Many fossilized eggs were damaged, so scientists couldn’t analyze them, as that would have meant altered conclusions regarding the temperature. They could analyze only two eggs: one of a titanosaur sauropod, having a temperature similar to modern mammals, which is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The other one is an oviraptorid, having 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Eagle claimed that it is very probable that the two species were endothermic. He also analyzed the soil around the eggs and was able to discover that the air’s temperature was lower than that of the animals’ body.
“Maybe they were warm blooded, but hadn’t developed the high level of temperature regulation seen in mammals and birds today,” said Eagle.
Eagle expressed his hope of finding out more about the oviraptorids metabolism by closely studying their evolutionary lineage from ancient birds.
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