Study Reveals How Dinosaurs Survived Low Temperatures

The life of the dinosaurs millions of years ago was not easy, and one of the reasons is because they had to endure the extreme cold that lashed during the winter, however, everything indicates that these creatures were sufficiently developed and had The qualities necessary to survive.

Hence the doubt arose on the part of the scientific community, about how it was that these prehistoric animals could withstand the intense cold in the south pole of the ancient continent of Gondwana.

That is why an international team of scientists from Slovakia, Sweden, Australia and the United States analyzed 10 fossils with an age of about 118 million years.


They found that these dinosaurs had a kind of feathers, something unusual in the south pole, but something that has been recorded in the northern hemisphere, as indicated by research published in Gondwana Research.

"Fossil feathers have been known to Koonwarra since the early 1960s, and were recognized as evidence of ancient birds, but otherwise they have received very little scientific attention," says Thomas Rich of the Melbourne Museum in Australia.

"Our study is, therefore, the first to thoroughly document these remains, which include new samples that were examined using cutting-edge technologies."

Some of the technology that was used as microscopy and spectroscopy allowed the team to capture an impressive level of detail of the well-preserved remains, providing information on their anatomy and, in some cases, the coloration.

Some of the feathers were relatively advanced, with 'zippers' of spikes similar to modern feathers that helps them to interlock for the flight, and gives the animal protection against the elements.

But it was the simplest 'fluffy' feathers that were of particular interest.

"The 'protoplumas' of dinosaurs would have been used for isolation," said Martin Kundrát, the lead author of Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Slovakia.

"The discovery of proto-feathers in Koonwarra suggests that soft feather coats could have helped small dinosaurs stay warm in ancient polar habitats," he said.

To understand the habitat of these species, it is necessary to go back millions of years, specifically when the land masses of the south today (Antarctica, Australia, South America and Africa, along with India and Arabia) joined in a giant supercontinent called Gondwana, which was more or less directly centered on the South Pole of the Earth.

At that time, the weather was warmer and Gondwana was not a winter paradise all year long. Instead, it was much more temperate, with lush ecosystems full of plants and animals.

However, although the poles did not freeze, they did experience long periods of sunlight in summer and darkness in winter. Therefore, anything that lived in such extreme conditions still had to deal with a prolonged and cold twilight.

In addition to this discovery, the team of researchers also found densely packed fossil melanosomes, or pigment bodies, that indicated a dark coloration that could not only help absorb heat, but also help with camouflage or communication in those months of low light.