US researchers have developed a brand new technology which can be used to determine if dinosaurs were actually warm blooded or cold blooded.
A study, which was released last week revealed the new technology developed by researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) – which is the first of its kind. It directly measures body temperatures of dinosaurs and other large vertebrates that are extinct via the use of isotopes analysis in eggshells, teeth and bones.
The findings of the study were published in the PNAS – the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Caltech’s geo-chemistry professor, John Eiler said that the new technology was not the same as measuring the body temperature of a live animal by inserting a thermometer up its rear end – but, he said, it was quite close.
Knowledge of the animal’s body temperature is absolutely necessary in order to study the change of temperature in their bodies and temperature regulation. Since dinosaurs are extinct, the scientists instead took into consideration two very rare isotopes which are oxygen-18 and carbon-13.
By studying the clumping effects of heavy isotopes which is dependant entirely on the temperature, the scientists first tried out their method on sharks and elephants. Once the method was proven successful, they then moved onto testing it on extinct animals.
The method was first tried out on a 12 million year old fossil which is a member of the rhinoceros family and also on a member of the alligator family. The results were satisfactory, with the team of scientists being able to estimate the possible body temperature of both kinds of animals. Studying the tooth enamel, as per the newly developed technology referred to as a paleothermometer, scientists are able to get a reading of the head temperature of that particular animal during the time the tooth grew.
Scientists are also currently studying egg shells of dinosaurs in order to determine if they were cold blooded or warm blooded.