Thermoregulation in Dinosaurs
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that explored how dinosaurs may have regulated their body temperatures.
Most animals regulate their internal body temperatures, or thermoregulate, to survive temperature changes in their environments. To shed light on the type of thermoregulation that dinosaurs used — ectothermy, endothermy, or mesothermy — scientists compared fossil evidence with the growth and metabolic rates of living species. The figure compares the body masses and resting metabolic rates of 381 living vertebrate species and 21 extinct dinosaur species. Metabolic rates of dinosaurs were estimated based on the growth rings and dimensions of fossilized bones. The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Make inferences about extinct species based on observations of similar living species.
body temperature, ectotherm, endotherm, logarithmic scale, mesotherm, metabolism, scatter plot, trend line
Grady, J. M., B. J. Enquist, E. Dettweiler-Robinson, N. A. Wright, and F. A. Smith. “Evidence for mesothermy in dinosaurs.” Science 344 (2014): 1268–1272. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1253143.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS4-1; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-1.M, EVO-1.N; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
AP Environmental Science (2013)
Topic(s): 2.5, 9.5, 9.9
Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-2.G, EIN-4.B. STB-4.F, SP5
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC1; DP2, DP3