Things I learned while reading “Dinosaur Heresies,” by Dr. Robert T. Bakker: pp. 1-101. Part 1

Approximately 20 years ago, my school owned a VCR tape on dinosaurs and Dr. Bakker was featured in this Smithsonian presentation. In the video, he looked like a hippie paleontologist. He specifically talked about the large diameter of the blood vessel paths in dinosaur fossil bones and said that dinosaurs looked like warm-blooded critters based on this fact. I searched YouTube for information and did not come across the exact film I had seen before.

Fast-forward. I was Christmas shopping for my daughter and ran across a used copy of Dinosaur Heresies. Suddenly, it was Christmas time for me even though it was only Black Friday weekend.

I am blogging these days, and I thought it might be interesting to share some revelations from his 1986 text as I go along in my reading. Here goes!


For every 10-degree C/18-degree F drop in temperature, lizards experience a 50 percent decrease in running speed and digestion (Bakker 76). Their peak operating temperature is like a human.

I do a YouTube series called “Watersnake Adventures.” This book by Bakker contains important reptilian information for the pursuant observer-videographer: me. I am wondering if Dr. Bakker will comment later in the text on the same stat loss with decreased temperature for serpents.

Pythons defeat their prey by constricting tighter when the prey exhales (Bakker 80).

On page 81, Bakker mentions that dinosaurs had no carnivorous freshwater representatives. I have a hard time believing that Kronosaur or some of the other pliosaurs did not take to freshwater from time to time. Bakker does specify small freshwater predators, however in his exclusion.

On page 86, Bakker said that reptiles get “addled” when their temperature is too hot. Confusion and the inability to think clearly jive with “addled.” I knew reptiles got sleepy when cold but did not realize that getting too hot is a problem as well.

On page 89, Dr. Bakker describes the formula Q10 = 2. He said that for every ten-degree Celsius change in body temperature, a reptile’s physiological process changes by a factor of two. This supports the previous statement he made on page 76 when he was discussing lizards. He did expound later!

Interestingly, I am enjoying the discussion of mammal-versus-lizard physiology. The intrigue of dinosaurs brings out interest in a topic which at other times I might pass off as rather pedestrian. The desire to learn about thunder-lizards is motivating!

The illustrations, all of which are by Dr. Bakker are simple and straight to the point!


Citation

Bakker, Robert T. The Dinosaur Heresies. William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1986.