Hot dinosaurs

Scientists have figured out what possibly could have been the body temperature of dinosaurs. As so often I wonder what could possibly be the use of this kind of information, even if it were based on science.

The researchers have chemically analysed the fossilised eggs of dinosaurs to estimate their body temperature. And how exactly would anyone know that one relates to another? As there is no living dinosaur left to compare information with research is per definition based on assumptions. And many of my readers know 6853438-3x2-700x467that I’m not very keen on the combination of asssumptions and science.

“The temperatures we measured suggest that at least some dinosaurs were not fully endotherms (warm-blooded) like modern birds,” It suggests? Well, come back when you have some facts. And by the way, I just read that you only chemically analysed fossils. These dinosaurs are long dead, so there is no way you could have measured the body temperatures. Don’t mix up facts and fantasies, please!

“They may have been intermediate — somewhere between modern alligators and crocodiles and modern birds.” I sense a lot of wishful thinking here. Nobody has ever found any kind of in-between species to prove that evolution happened. So this is just a desperate attempt to come with something that would fill this gap. Nice try, but nothing but fantasy. No facts here whatsoever.

“Scientists have been debating for 150 years whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded hunters, like mammals, or cold-blooded and sluggish like many reptiles.” It sounds like they will have to continue this debate for a bit longer, for the new findings are not remotely helpful. Interpreting some data in a way that gives you what you are desperately looking for is not science. It’s fiction.

“The team analysed the behaviour of two rare isotopes in calcium carbonate, a key ingredient in egg shells. The isotopes — carbon-13 and oxygen-18 — tend to cluster 6853432-3x2-340x227together more closely at colder temperatures.” So what does that mean? It might mean that the eggs were colder. It might mean that the environment was colder. It might mean that in this case these isotopes behaved differently. It might mean that other factors in the environment influenced the isotopes. In short: it’s absolutely impossible to say what happened with these fossils after they were formed. It’s just one assumption on top of another.

“This technique tells you about the internal body temperature of the female dinosaur when she was ovulating,”Sorry, professor, but this technique doesn’t tell you that at all. You can measure the isotopes, but the only facts you get from that is what you can measure now. Without any solid proof that one means the other you cannot state anything with any kind of certainty.

The problem with studying fossils is that you have no idea what happened since they were formed. You don’t know how they were formed. You don’t know what happened to them since. You don’t know what happened in the environment. You don’t even know how long they have been there. And as fossils are usually dated at a very high age there is nothing useful you can say about any of these kind of influences. And that leaves the scientists with nothing but assumptions and wishful thinking. Which with almost 100% certainty leads to a new piece of fiction.


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