The first hot-blooded dinosaurs appeared 180 million years ago

(Credit: Davide Bonadonna/Universidade de Vigo/UCL)

,- A new study reveals the ability to regulate body temperature -- a trait that all mammals and birds today possess, first appeared and evolved among several dinosaurs in the early Jurassic period about 180 million years ago.

In the early 20th century, dinosaurs were considered cold-blooded animals just as modern reptiles rely on the sun's heat to regulate their body temperature.

Well, in this new study, researchers have shown that there are some kinds of dinosaurs that are probably capable of generating their own body heat.

The conclusion came after researchers observed the spread of dinosaurs in various climates on Earth throughout the Mesozoic Age, 1000 fossils, climate models, the geography of the Mezozoic Era period and the tree of the evolution of the dinosaur.

The team found that two of the three main groups of dinosaurs, theropods (such as T. rex and Velociraptor) and ornithischia (including plant-eating Stegosaurus and Triceratops) migrated to cooler climates during the Early Jurassic.

This, according to the researchers, suggests that they may have developed endothermia or the ability to generate heat internally.

Instead, sauropods, another major group that includes Brontosaurus and Diplodocus, live in warmer regions on the planet.

"Our analysis shows that different climate preferences emerged among major dinosaur groups around the time of the Jenkyns events 183 million years ago, when intense volcanic activity caused global warming and the extinction of plant groups," said Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza, lead author of the study at the University College London Earth Sciences.

The Jenkyns events occurred after lava and volcanic gas erupted from long holes on the Earth's surface, covering most of the planet's territory.

The development of endothermic capabilities that could occur due to the environmental crisis then allowed therapoda and ornithischia to thrive in cooler environments.

It also allows these dinosaurs to become highly active and maintain activity for a long period of time to survive, grow faster and produce more offspring.

Sara Varela, from Universidade de Vigo, Spain, added that the unique temperature setting of birds may also be from the Early Jurassic period.

Meanwhile, sauropods seem to grow fertile in dry environments like sabana, supporting the idea that they do live in warm climates and do not learn to do thermoregulation like some other dinosaurs do.

This research also shows a close link between the climate and how dinosaurs evolved, the biological properties of the dinosaur's ancestors, and the different ways in which dinosaures adapt to complex environmental changes in the long term.

(Newsline Paper Teams)
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