Stop the Press! – Homaeothermic Marine Reptiles


Old news, new research, enjoy!


Ryosuke Motani: Warm-Blooded "Sea Dragons"?
Science 11 June 2010: 1361-1362


Aurélien Bernard, Christophe Lécuyer, Peggy Vincent, Romain Amiot,
Nathalie Bardet,Eric Buffetaut, Gilles Cuny, François Fourel,
François Martineau, Jean-Michel Mazin, Abel Prieur: Regulation of
Body Temperature by Some Mesozoic Marine Reptiles

Abstract: "What the body temperature and thermoregulation processes
of extinct vertebrates were are central questions for understanding
their ecology and evolution. The thermophysiologic status of the great
marine reptiles is still unknown, even though some studies have suggested
that thermoregulation may have contributed to their exceptional
evolutionary success as apex predators of Mesozoic aquatic ecosystems.
We tested the thermal status of ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs
by comparing the oxygen isotope compositions of their tooth phosphate to
those of coexisting fish. Data distribution reveals that these large
marine reptiles were able to maintain a constant and high body
temperature in oceanic environments ranging from tropical to cold
temperate. Their estimated body temperatures, in the range from 35° ± 2°C
to 39° ± 2°C, suggest high metabolic rates required for predation and 
fast swimming over large distances offshore."