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Regulation of Body Temperature by Some Mesozoic Marine Reptiles

Aurélie Bernard, Christophe Lécuyer, Peggy Vincent, Romain Amiot, Nathalie Bardet, Eric Buffetaut, Gilles Cuny, François Fourel, François Martineau, Jean-Michel Mazin and Abel Prieur
Science
New Series, Vol. 328, No. 5984 (11 June 2010), pp. 1379-1382
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40656069
Page Count: 4
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Regulation of Body Temperature by Some Mesozoic Marine Reptiles
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Abstract

What the body temperature and thermorégulation 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 thermorégulation may have contributed to their exceptional evolutionary success as apex predators of Mesozoic aquatic ecosystems. We tested the thermal status of ichthyosaurs, plesiosauro 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 prédation and fast swimming over large distances offshore.

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