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Science. 2001 Aug 3;293(5531):850-3.

Nostril position in dinosaurs and other vertebrates and its significance for nasal function.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA.


Many dinosaurs have enormous and complicated bony nasal apertures. Functional interpretation requires knowledge of the location of the external opening in the skin. Traditionally, the fleshy nostril of dinosaurs has been placed in the back of the bony opening, but studies of extant dinosaur relatives suggest that it is located far forward. Narial blood supply and cavernous tissue corroborate the rostral position in dinosaurs. A rostral nostril was, and remains, a virtually invariant rule of construction among Amniota, which has consequences for (i) nasal airstreaming, and hence various physiological parameters, and (ii) the collection of behaviorally relevant circumoral odorants.

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