Cold, Warm or just Right? Were Dinosaurs actually cold-blooded?

Dinosaurs (meaning fearfully-great lizard – Richard Owen 1842) are reptiles, so are therefore cold-blooded. Yes? Well maybe not….

A quite aptly named theory suggests that dinosaurs were neither cold blooded or warm-blooded, but instead “dinosaur-blooded”. Combining elements from both cold-blooded and warm-blooded strategies with a changing metabolism over the animal’s lifetime. By using Annuli, which are concentric rings of growth used to age individuals (like the rings of a tree) scientists were able to deduce the metabolism of a number of species (including Tyrannosaurus, Allosaurus, Tenotsaurus and a range of present-day species) and found that their growth rates were not characteristic of either warm or cold-blooded animals.

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How bad teeth could tell us a great deal about ancient humans.

At some point, most of us have probably been told by the dentist that we need to brush more as we have dental plaque building up. But what is dental plaque and what could it tell us about ancient humans?

Dental calculus (plaque) is ubiquitous on modern human teeth; it forms when a biofilm of oral bacteria builds up on the teeth and calcifies. As calcium phosphate mineral salts deposit on the tooth surface the biofilm becomes ‘trapped’ and preserved (Weyrich et al. 2015). This happens constantly over the individual’s lifetime trapping layer upon layer of bacteria. While dental plaque is often discarded from both live and dead individuals it is now recognised that this plaque contains bacteria that can be identified. Luckily for us ancient (and modern) hunter-gatherer groups don’t brush their teeth!

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Is Objectivity possible in Archaeology?

Objectivity is the state or quality of being ‘bias-free’ (where biases include personal feelings, experiences and imaginings) while subjectivity is the idea that our decisions and ideas are formulated as a result of our own mental experience (Kristianses and Rowlands 2005). The scientific method strives to produces results that are objective or objective truths and is concerned with reproducibility and testability of methods and theories.

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Reconstructing prehistoric animals

This post is based upon the book: All Yesterdays, unique and speculative views of Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals by John Conway, C.M Kosemen and Darren Naish. I recently read this book and would recommend it to anybody studying archaeology and anthropology. The book raises the issues of clothing bones in tissue (e.g. skin, muscles, fur and feathers) or in other words bringing the animal back to life in art.

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