Scientists finally answered the question that has been burning in my brain since I read Jurassic Park as a child (a far too young child, it turns out, as I had to sleep with my sister while reading through the T-Rex attack): are dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded?
I agreed with Crichton and Dr. Grant (and then my homeboy Spielberg) - I knew there was absolutely NO WAY these amazing life forces could be cold-blooded. These were warm-blooded creatures that were related to birds, not lizards. I was certain of this; I championed this point of view through all of my dinosaur-obsessed youth (some may argue it extended beyond youth) until now. I obnoxiously corrected teachers and museum signs. I rolled my eyes at out-of-date books and TV specials.
I fought the warm-blooded dinosaur fight.
And then yesterday, I read this article on HuffPo. You should read the whole thing. But Mr. Enquist gets to the heart of the matter:
"Our results showed that dinosaurs had growth and metabolic rates that were actually not characteristic of warm-blooded or even cold-blooded organisms. They did not act like mammals or birds nor did they act like reptiles or fish," said University of Arizona evolutionary biologist and ecologist Brian Enquist.
"Instead, they had growth rates and metabolisms intermediate to warm-blooded and cold-blooded organisms of today. In short, they had physiologies that are not common in today's world."
They weren't warm-blooded.
But they weren't cold-blooded either.
No one was "right." Dinosaurs were something else. Something outside of the constructs that we've created.
This was such a head-smacking moment for me. WHAT WERE WE THINKING. Of course they were "something else." Did we really think everything ever in the world sat within this two-type-of-blood construct that we, us little old humans, had created in our last few hundred years in charge of this earth?
I know this is a leap, but I found myself saying to my husband - this is like when they realized the world wasn't flat (ok so maybe not as groundbreaking but you know what I mean). Because you have to step outside the paradigm of what is even possible - what the text books have taught you, all you've ever known from pop culture, from parents, from conversations at cocktail parties - and look at the information in a new way.
I never even thought about the possibility of there being a third type of blood. Because my mind stopped at two.
So I'm not mad that I was wrong (OK, maybe a little embarrassed that I was such a brat about it for all those years). I'm more than happy that dinosaurs were so badass they had their own unique type of blood.
What I'm taking away from this is - let's be open minded.This was a great reminder that we don't yet know everything there is to know about this big, beautiful world.
And perhaps even more than that - it's a great reminder that solutions or answers or ideas can live outside of the confines and rules that we've created. Sometimes it's important to let our minds wander outside of the paradigms that we've established, just to make sure we're not missing anything out there.
The most successful species are doing this anyway. Just ask Dr. Ian Malcolm.