Wild Things: Life as We Know It

Orchids, Baboons, Ancient Reptiles and More…

(Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock)

Hot-Blooded Reptiles

Stenopterygius quadriscissus
(Maura McCarthy)
Sea-dwelling reptiles hundreds of millions of years ago were warmblooded, according to a new study led by Lyon University. It’s the clearest sign that some ancient reptiles, unlike modern ones, had a metabolism similar to that of mammals. Oxygen atoms in fossil teeth show plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs (ten-foot-long Stenopterygius quadriscissus) had internal temperatures of 95 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, even in chilly water.

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