Paleontology: Fever Chart for Fossils

Working with bits of bone, fossilized impressions in stone and educated intuition, scientists have cleverly deduced the appearance, weight, speed and even habits of animals that have long been extinct. Now, University of Arizona Paleontologist-Biochemist Tong-yun Ho has gained an unexpected new insight into the metabolism of many of these extinct animals. He has learned to take their temperature.

Paleontologist Ho depends on neither time travel nor thermometers for measuring ancient body temperatures. Instead, he works with collagen, a protein found in human and animal connective tissue and skeletal structures. Aware that the proportion of an imino acid, hydroxyproline, is...

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