Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mineral Isotopes Could Disclose Whether Dinosaurs Were Cold- or Warm-Blooded

A new method allows researchers to discover the internal body temperature of long-dead animals by examining chemical bonds in their teeth or bones.

The grand spine-chilling Tyrannosaurus rex has a reputation for having killed its prey in cold blood. But was this ancient Dinosaur truly a cold-blooded ectotherm?

Strong evolutionary links among reptiles (ectotherms), birds (mostly endothermic, or warm-blooded) and dinosaurs make it tough to terminate whether nonavian dinosaurs were also unable to regulate their own internal body temperatures.

A new method of studying the chemical bonds in a mineral set up in the teeth and bones of animals might finally suggest a way to settle the debate.

Researchers establish that heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen bond differently in the biological version of the mineral apatite (which is a main component of bones and teeth of animals, both living and long extinct).

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