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214 The Nature of Dinosaurs

times as much per pound of body weight as do reptile predators. By studying the fossil record, Bakker found that the ratio of predators to herbivores in dinosaur ecosystems matched
what would be expected of a warm-blooded ecosystem.
Dinosaurs had to have been warm-blooded. Their bones, relative numbers, and locations proved it.
He studied the legs of zoo animals, comparing leg structure to how they moved. Did a
chickens leg bend differently than a zebras? How did those differences relate to the different activity of each animal? How did form dictate function for each animal, and how did
function dictate form? What did the shape of a dinosaurs joints and the size of its bones say
about how it must have moved and functioned? He tried to account for this motion and the
implied probable muscle masses to control and move each bone in his drawings.
He compared leg bone size, shape, and density for hundreds of modern animals with
those of dinosaurs. He found that dinosaur leg bones closely matched the bone structure of
running mammalsnot those who sprint for 10 seconds when alarmed, but those who regularly run for 20 minutes.
Dinosaurs were runners. Their structure proved it. That also meant that they were agile. No sluggish, clumsy oaf would be a natural runner.
Bakker again turned to the fossil record and found that very few baby and juvenile dinosaur skeletons had been discovered. This meant that few died, which in turn meant that
parent dinosaurs had to have been very successful at protecting, sheltering, and feeding
their young. Dinosaurs were good parents.
The old myths were shattered. Bakker published his findings while still a graduate student at Harvard. But it took another 20 years of intense data collection and analysis for the tide
of belief to turn in Bakkers direction. Even after Bakkers discoveries revolutionized sciences views of dinosaurs, he was still viewed with suspicion as an untrustworthy radical.
Fun Facts: Giant Brontosaurus became the most popular of all dinosaurs
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its name means
thunder lizard. By 1970 some scientists claimed that Brontosaurus
should not be used since it referred to three different species:
Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Camarasaurus. The argument continues, though its been 80 million years since any of the three thundered
across the earth.

More to Explore
Bakker, Robert. The Dinosaur Heresies. New York: Morrow Books, 1988.
. Unearthing the Jurassic. In Science Year 1995. New York: World Book, 1995.
Daintith, John. Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists, Volume 1. Philadelphia: Institute of Physics Publishing, 1994.
Krishtalka, Leonard. Dinosaur Plots. New York: William Morrow, 1999.
Officer, Charles. The Great Dinosaur Extinction Controversy. Reading, MA, Addison
Wasley, 1996.
Stille, Darlene. Dinosaur Scientist. In Science Year 1992. New York: World Book,

Planets Exist Around

Other Stars
Year of Discovery: 1995
What Is It? Planetseven planets like Earthexist around other stars.
Who Discovered It? Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz

Why Is This One of the 100 Greatest?

One of the great questions for humanity has always been: Are we alone? Science has
long asked: Are we the only solar system with planetsand the only one with planets that
could support life? The discovery of planets around other stars makes it likely that other
planets exist capable of supporting life.
Of great importance to astronomers, the discovery of other solar systems lets them test
their theories on the origin of planets and solar systems. The discovery of distant planets has
fundamentally changed how we perceive our place in the universe.

How Was It Discovered?

In the sixth century B.C., Greek scientist Anaximander was the first to theorize that
other planets must exist. In 1600 Italian priest and astronomer Giordano Bruno was burned
at the stake by the Catholic Church for professing the same belief. American astronomers
were actively searching through giant telescopes for planets orbiting other stars by late the
Michel Mayor was born in 1942 and even as a child was fascinated by stars and astronomy. With his collaborator, Antoine Duquennoy, he joined the many astronomers searching for small objects in the universe. But Mayor searched not for planets, but for brown
dwarfscool, dim objects thought to form like stars, but which failed to grow massive
enough to support hydrogen fusion and thus never lit up with starry furnace and fire. Too
big for planets, too small to become stars, brown dwarfs were a galactic oddity.
Astronomers, however, had a problem: telescopes cant see planets and brown dwarfs
because they dont give off light. Instead, astronomers searched for slight side-to-side wobbles in the motion of a star caused by the gravitational tug of a large planet (or brown
Some tried to detect such wobble by carefully measuring the position of a star over the
course of months or years. Others (Mayor included) looked for this wobble by using Dopp-