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Dinosaur Fossils Predict Body Temperatures James F. Gillooly1*

Summary: Dinosaur Fossils Predict Body Temperatures
James F. Gillooly1*
, Andrew P. Allen2
, Eric L. Charnov3,4
1 Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States of America, 2 National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, Santa Barbara,
California, United States of America, 3 Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America, 4 Department of Fisheries and
Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, United States of America
Perhaps the greatest mystery surrounding dinosaurs concerns whether they were endotherms, ectotherms, or some
unique intermediate form. Here we present a model that yields estimates of dinosaur body temperature based on
ontogenetic growth trajectories obtained from fossil bones. The model predicts that dinosaur body temperatures
increased with body mass from approximately 25 8C at 12 kg to approximately 41 8C at 13,000 kg. The model also
successfully predicts observed increases in body temperature with body mass for extant crocodiles. These results
provide direct evidence that dinosaurs were reptiles that exhibited inertial homeothermy.
Citation: Gillooly JF, Allen AP, Charnov EL (2006) Dinosaur fossils predict body temperatures. PLoS Biol 4(8): e248. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040248
Body temperature regulation in dinosaurs has long been a
topic of interest and debate in biology because of its
importance to understanding the physiology and life history
of these ancient, exceptionally large animals [1]. Some have
argued that dinosaurs were endotherms with body temper-


Source: Allen, Andrew P. - National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, University of California at Santa Barbara


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology