Dinosaurs and modern day birds possess similar breathing systems: Study

November 14th, 2007 - 8:38 am ICT by admin  
The research was undertaken by a team of biologists and paleontologists from the University of Manchester.

The team found out that theropod dinosaurs like the Velociraptor had similar respiratory systems to present-day diving birds, such as marine birds and wildfowl.

According to Dr Jonathan Codd, a member of the research team, “A number of studies have shown that dinosaurs were the direct ancestors of birds and have identified a suite of avian characteristics in theropods.”

“Our findings support this view and show that the similarities also extend to breathing structures and that these dinosaurs possessed everything they needed to breathe using an avian-like air-sac respiratory system,” said Dr Codd.

Birds have one of the most efficient respiratory systems of all vertebrates which they need in order to supply their bodies with enough oxygen to sustain the high levels of energy required for flight. To help them in proper respiration, b irds use uncinate processes, which are small bones that act as levers to move the ribs and sternum during breathing. Interestingly, these structures are different lengths in different birds. They are shortest in running birds, intermediate in flying birds and longest in diving birds.

After studying the fossilised remains of maniraptoran dinosaurs and extinct birds such as Archaeopteryx, scientists found that breathing structures, known as uncinate processes, were also present in the dinosaurs.

“The dinosaurs we studied from the fossil record had long uncinate processes similar in structure to those of diving birds. This suggests both dinosaurs and diving birds need longer lever arms to help them breathe,” said Dr Codd.

“Finding these structures in modern birds and their extinct dinosaur ancestors suggests that these running dinosaurs had an efficient respiratory system and supports the theory that they were highly active animals that could run relatively quickly when pursuing their prey,” he added. (ANI)

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