Friday, February 6, 2009

Dinosaurs were slow and sluggish animals

Early palaeontologists thought dinosaurs must have been slow and sluggish to have lost the "evolutionary race" to birds and mammals. Modern studies find no sign that they were laggards, lazily dragging their tails behind them.

Most dinosaurs were probably as mobile as large, modern mammals. Like lions, meat-eating dinosaurs were active predators that probably lay down and rested after eating their fill.

One study in 2000 of an exceptionally well-preserved hadrosaur fossil, found in a South Dakota riverbed, suggested that dinosaurs had powerful hearts more like those of birds or mammals than modern reptiles. Researchers argue that the fossilised, four-chambered heart points to an active, bird-like metabolism.

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