This stegosaurus may have had more in common with us than previously thought. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
New evidence indicates that dinosaurs may have not been the cold-blooded reptiles that we normally think of them as. Instead, they were probably warm blooded and had a high rate of metabolism to sustain their growth.
One of the strongest indicators that dinosaurs were cold-blooded came from the fact that their bones show tree-ring like lines across them. These are also found in modern cold-blooded animals and scientists attribute them to periods of slowed or no-growth due to lack of heat and food.
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Cold-blooded animals cannot create their own body heat, and must instead rely on basking in the sun or staying cool to regulate their body temperatures.
The team looked at bones from 41 modern mammals and found that every single one of them had the same lines of arrested growth, or Lags.
They also compared the bone tissues, and found them to be incredibly similar.
"If you compare this tissue with dinosaur tissue you will see that they are indistinguishable," said lead author of the paper Meike Koehler of Spain's Institut Catala de Paleontologia to AFP.
"So this means that dinosaurs not only grew very fast but this growth was sustained by a very high metabolic rate, indicating warm-bloodedness."
Most paleontologists do believe that dinosaurs were warm blooded, but there is no conclusive evidence and public perception is still that dinosaurs were large, cold-blooded reptiles.
However, given the size of dinosaurs, it would have been incredibly difficult for a reptile of that size to increase or decrease body temperature using only the sun.