Friday, January 15, 2010

Birds, Reptiles, and Dinosaurs - Oh my!

Ever since Jurassic Park, I have been fascinated with the link between dinosaurs and birds. But when I was a kid, my teachers insisted that our friendly neighborhood allosaurus evolved into today's Geico, gecko.

I had pretty much made up my mind that those scientists and teachers of my childhood knew nothing.

But evolutionarily - they may both be right.

It seems that crocodilians - some of the most ancient reptiles, and birds may have sprung from the same source. And the key? How they breath.

Scientific American has reported that an ancient link in the breathing apparatus of birds and alligators may have been a survival strategy - as well as the key that links both of these species to their common ancestry - dinosaurs.

Avian dinosaurs—aka birds—have a streamlined way of breathing. Instead of sending air in and out of tiny sacs in the lungs like some other animals do, their breath flows in a single direction through a series of tubes. A new study reveals that birds are not alone in this adaptation: alligators also rely on this one-way inhale/exhale, suggesting that this form of respiration emerged a lot earlier in evolutionary time than had been previously thought.

These findings, published online January 14 in Science, indicate that this method of breathing likely emerged more than 246 million years ago, during the Triassic period, before the lineage that gave rise to alligators and birds split—rather than in later bird relatives.

Read the rest of the article here:

No comments: