Original. In English. La entrevista, en Español, se halla publicada en LA VOZ LIBRE (http://www.lavozlibre.com/noticias/blog_opiniones/2/900612/david-b-weishampel-todavia-existen-muchisimos-dinosaurios-por-descubrir/1).
1) Were all dinosaurs warm-blooded?
Like much in dinosaur paleontology, we don’t know for sure which taxa among dinosaurs were warm-blooded. I’m fairly certain that all or nearly all theropods were warm-blooded throughout life and that remaining dinosaurs were warm-blooded at least at small, hatchling size if not larger.
2) An animal like Seismosaurus, Diplodocus or Brachiosaurus… how many hours could be eating in order to rest in live!!?!?!?!? How many preys would a T-Rex need, for example, in a week?
I imagine that the largest sauropods had to eat as much as possible over a full day and night. I have no idea how long they slept, but it couldn’t have been for very long at a stretch – their hunger would have woken them up!! As far as T. rex is concerned, some scientists have calculated that something like 10-20 adult hadrosaurs per year could satisfy an individual T. rex!!
3) Do you think some dinosaurs were so big because oxygen in Earth´s Atmosphere was more abundant?
I’m not sure about this one, but it is true that body size increases happened numerous times independently. I would worry about sources of carbon in animals that grew very large and at such rapid rates.
4) Nowadays we know that in Mesozoic there were mammals that ate dinosaurs, birds similar to ostriches… So it seems size was not the main issue in order to explain why some animals survive to massive extinction and others not, isn´t? Oxygen, Nemesis theory, … there are many dinosaur’s extinction theories but which is your favorite one?
According to some scientists, the census of survivors indicates that organisms should be freshwater in habit, ectothermic, small, and non-amniotic to beat whatever the cause of this extinction were. I don't know about cyclicity holds up any longer, but I do think that, when the 10 km diameter bolide hit the earth it was a very bad day for whoever was around.
5) Someday I read that it could be possible some dinosaurs survived massive extinction (not a bird) as far as Eocene or Oligocene era. What do you think about it?
I think it’s very unlikely. Better claims have been made that a few individual non-avian dinosaurs made it briefly into the early Paleocene, but the days of these animals was over at the Cretaceous-Paleocene extinction.
6) We know that some dinosaurs (like Troodon) were really intelligent. Do you think that we can say some dinosaurs were second´s world most intelligent animals in history? Were they more intelligent than monkeys, parrots, crows…?
Hardly likely, although they were certainly smarter than originally portrayed.
7) Some of your most famous investigations were about Parasaurolophus head and voice. Tell us something about your experience!
I did this research for my master’s degree at the University of Toronto, a wonderful place with a great collection of lambeosaurine skull, one of which is the best preserved of Parasaurolophus. I was very happy (and a bit scared…) to be working on this fine skull and I also got to use some of the physics I learned as an undergraduate to model the potential that the crest of Parasaurolophus and other lambeosaurines were used as vocal resonators.
8) From my point of view there are plenty of politics in paleontology. For example, everyone knows T-Rex but not Giganotosaurus, Diplodocus but not Argentinosaurus. What is your opinion about it?
Well, there are lots of politics in paleontology, but you should also consider that both Tyrannosaurus and Diplodocus have been known for over a hundred years, while Giganotosaurus and Argentinosaurus have been known for at most 20 years. Give ‘em time!
9) In last years, it has been discovered many fossils of theropods bigger than T-Rex (Spinosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus…). T-Rex was more a myth or a unique dinosaur?
No, I would say that T. rex was a really dinosaur, but many people have made myths about its functional morphology and paleoecology.
10) What was your opinion about the film when you left cinema after watching Jurassic Park? What is the film’s contribution to people knowledge about dinosaurs?
It's actually difficult remembering just what we – as the public or as scientists – knew about dinosaurs pre-Jurassic Park. I enjoyed the movie, marveled at the computer animation, and thought that the people were almost unnecessary in most of the plot.
11) In “Terranova” (TV-SERIE), appears some imagined dinosaurs. Jack Horner said that there are plenty of dinosaurs to discover until. What percentage, more or less, do you think that it has been discovered?
Some scientists have tried to calculate what % of all dinosaurs have been found to-date, but each time they do, their statistics get looser and looser, which I take to mean that we are discovering so many new dinosaurs at such an exceeding rate that the number of total dinosaurs we’ll ever find cannot be calculated. So like Jack Horner, I’m only willing to say that there are plenty more dinosaurs to be found.
12) Some professors have written that species discovered were least. For example, T-Rex, Tarbosaurus… sub-species in a unique spice (like Siberian and Indian tiger?)?
With dinosaur taxonomy, there are plenty of differences of opinion about what is and what isn’t a different species (or genus, etc.). If someone wants to synonymize Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus, or T. rex and T. Bataar, I’m willing to listen to their arguments, but they would have to be very good arguments, as in all science.
13) Do you think, sincerely, that humans will be able to revive dinosaurs someday?
No, for reasons of evolutionary and developmental biology. The uniqueness of a species also gives uniqueness to its extinction. Once extinct, then it cannot be brought back to life as the same form. It might look like a dinosaur, but it wouldn’t be part of the dinosaur historical entity. That is, if birds are not considered dinosaurs!!!!!
14) In Europe is too difficult to work as paleontologist, especially in Spain. Do you think that it´s easier to work as paleontologist in USA? Was this job your first option in mind?
It is true that in the US, there appear to be more jobs, although it’s a big place. It all depends on the richness of the dinosaurian fossil record of a particular place and how much the governments and universities are willing to support people who can study this material. In Spain and elsewhere in Europe, there are a number of universities and institutes that do support dinosaur research, which is great.. But for everyone across the globe it’s getting harder and harder to maintain this kind of research.
15) What´s your opinion about Spanish´s paleontology?
Do you think that Spain is an important country in dinosaurs study? I’m very excited about Spanish dinosaur paleontology!!! There is quite a lot of new fieldwork being done throughout Spain, which is leading to the recognition of new taxa and providing new interpretations of paleoecology, diversity, and paleobiogeography.
16) Last one, what´s your favorite dinosaur??
Zalmoxes, an ornithopod recently recognized from the Late Cretaceous of Romania that my colleagues and I got to name and describe.
Thanks Professor for your attention!