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Re: Physiological Adaptations of the Dinosauria

private private wrote:

He [John Ostrom] hypothesized that the dinosaurs were endothermic (or
warm-blooded) like their flying descendants. These two ideas became widely
accepted over the next decade and a half until John Ruben, a physiologist
working at the University of Oregon in 1996, scanned several dinosaur skulls
and showed that they lacked any trace of scroll-shaped bones (or cartilages)
in their nasal cavities known as respiratory turbinates.

Yes, but Mesozoic birds (including _Archaeopteryx_) lack RT's too - not surprising since they're usually made of cartilage and so unlikely to be preserved as fossils. The absence of RT's in dinosaur specimens is therefore irrelevant to either to discussions on endothermy in dinosaurs or to the evolution of birds from dinosaurs

For an easily accessible, back-of-the-envelope rebuttal of the importance (or lack of importance) of RT's in endothermy and the origin of birds, by Greg Paul himself, check out:


While this
has the potential to solve many questions about the physiology of dinosaurs,
it may also explain their extinction. Since this system relies on ambient air temperature being somewhat lower than the animal's core body
temperature, it would likewise be drastically impaired by a global increase
in temperature. Mammals, birds, and reptiles are oblivious to such factors.

This overlooks the oft-ignored fact that certain groups of birds, mammals and non-dinosaurian reptiles were also hit hard by the end-of-Cretaceous extinction. Among birds, all except the neornithines went extinct (and the Cretaceous fossil record of this group is so meagre that it's possible their numbers plummeted too, only there were enough survivors to carry them across the K/T boundary). Among mammals, as far as I know, only the placentals seemed immune to the K/T catastrophe. Sea reptiles, pterosaurs and many crocodilians went extinct. And that's just the vertebrates...



Dr Timothy J. Williams

USDA/ARS Researcher
Agronomy Hall
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50014

Phone: 515 294 9233
Fax:   515 294 3163

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