Okay, I know all I am doing is fueling the perpetuation of this kind of crap on TV.
That said, I was bored, and one of the few cool things about The History Channel is that it allows folks to watch their shows online.
The latest one was called: Bloodiest Battle; the story of the Cleveland Lloyd Quarry.
Well, the JFC version of what happens.
Anyway, there were, as usual, a host of annoying offenses in the show. Besides the ever annoying “loud dinosaurs” (i.e. all the dinosaurs couldn’t stop roaring), there was also the requisite rampant speculation on the social life of Allosaurus, the ecological relationship between Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus, and various anatomical flubs that continue to send out the message that The History Channel only hires the “talking heads” so they can appear scientifically legitimate.
Anyway, the only reason I am bringing this one up is because the most egregious error in the entire program (in my mind, at least) was the absolute statement from “Dinosaur George” Blasing that “all the evidence points to these animals being warm-blooded.”
That is bull-shit with a capital B.
There is no, I reiterate NO consensus on the thermophysiology of dinosaurs. That is true for all dinosaurs. All the evidence used so far has been ambiguous at best.
Furthermore, a “cold-blooded” Allosaurus is going to have the same overheating problem as a “warm-blooded” Allosaurus.
The problem has nothing to do with thermophysiology. It has to do with big animals over-exerting themselves in a hot environment. Dinosaurs were reptiles, and like all reptiles, they had a very limited means of removing heat. No sweat glands, and no real bare skin.
One thing that Allosaurus and other saurischian dinosaurs may have used to keep cool is their air sac system. Air sacs in birds do not lead to their high aerobic capacity. That is accomplished through the flow through system that the air sacs created, where oxygen is sent only one way (vs. the dead end bellows way that mammals and reptiles use). The perfusion of extra air sacs all over the body does nothing to add to endurance in birds. What it does do, though, is lighten the body and provide a spot for heat to dump from deep in the body. It is honestly quite likely that this is was the main impetus for air sac evolution in dinosaurs, and its consequent exploitation by their avian descendants.
This explanation would certainly have been a more scientific answer to how Allosaurus kept cool instead of pulling that antorbital fenestra radiator idea out of wherever “Dinosaur George” found it.
I don’t like absolutism in science programs anyway, but this type of absolutism is what lead to the general public thinking, erroneously, that scientists have discovered dinosaurs to have been warm-blooded. All this winds up doing is creating a false concept of dinosaurs that winds up getting shot down when new students enter the field and find that dinosaurs weren’t the super hot-blooded beasts they thought they were.
Plus, it’s just annoying when some fanboy says that being “warm-blooded” is one of the fundamental differences between dinosaurs and other reptiles.
Okay, I’m done venting.
Next episode involves some mythical beast called a “megalodon” (they must mean Carcharocles/Carcharodon megalodon). I hear that, at 15 meters (50ft) in length, it was the size of a jumbo jet and had to eat a tonne of meat a day to keep going.
Yeah, definitely sounds like something worth missing!