The much debated question of dinosaur thermophysiology has not yet been conclusively solved despite numerous attempts. We used the temperature-dependent oxygen isotope fractionation between vertebrate body water (delta O-18(body water)) and phosphatic tissues (delta O-18(p)) to compare the thermophysiology of dinosaurs with that of non-dinosaurian ectothermic reptiles. Present-day delta O-18(p) values of vertebrate apatites show that ectotherms have higher delta O-18(p) values than endotherms at high latitudes due to their lower body temperature, and conversely lower delta(18)Op values than endotherms at low latitudes. Using a data set of 80 new and 49 published delta O-18(p) values, we observed similar and systematic differences in Delta O-18 values (Delta O-18) between four groups of Cretaceous dinosaurs (theropods, sauropods, ornithopods and ceratopsians) and associated fresh water crocodiles and turtles. Expressed in terms of body temperatures (T-b), these Delta O-18 values indicate that dinosaurs maintained rather constant T-b in the range of endotherms whatever ambient temperatures were. This implies that high metabolic rates were widespread among Cretaceous dinosaurs belonging to widely different taxonomic groups and suggest that enclothermy may be a synapomorphy of dinosaurs, or may have been acquired convergently in the studied taxa. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Univ Lyon 1, CNRS, UMR 5125, Lab Paleoenvironm & Paleobiosphere, F-69622 Villeurbanne, France; CNRS, UMR 5125, F-75013 Paris, France; Inst Phys Globe, CNRS, UMR 7577, Lab Paleomagnetisme, F-75252 Paris, FranceArticleEnglish