Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
Nature. 2005 Jul 14;436(7048):253-6.

Basic avian pulmonary design and flow-through ventilation in non-avian theropod dinosaurs.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, 228 Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701, USA. oconnorp@ohiou.edu

Abstract

Birds are unique among living vertebrates in possessing pneumaticity of the postcranial skeleton, with invasion of bone by the pulmonary air-sac system. The avian respiratory system includes high-compliance air sacs that ventilate a dorsally fixed, non-expanding parabronchial lung. Caudally positioned abdominal and thoracic air sacs are critical components of the avian aspiration pump, facilitating flow-through ventilation of the lung and near-constant airflow during both inspiration and expiration, highlighting a design optimized for efficient gas exchange. Postcranial skeletal pneumaticity has also been reported in numerous extinct archosaurs including non-avian theropod dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx. However, the relationship between osseous pneumaticity and the evolution of the avian respiratory apparatus has long remained ambiguous. Here we report, on the basis of a comparative analysis of region-specific pneumaticity with extant birds, evidence for cervical and abdominal air-sac systems in non-avian theropods, along with thoracic skeletal prerequisites of an avian-style aspiration pump. The early acquisition of this system among theropods is demonstrated by examination of an exceptional new specimen of Majungatholus atopus, documenting these features in a taxon only distantly related to birds. Taken together, these specializations imply the existence of the basic avian pulmonary Bauplan in basal neotheropods, indicating that flow-through ventilation of the lung is not restricted to birds but is probably a general theropod characteristic.

PMID:
16015329
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk