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What can Archaeorhynchus tell us about

how birds breathe?


Archaeorhynchus is a genus
of beaked avialans (proto-
birds) from the
early Cretaceous period.
Modern birds are dinosaurs
What feature(s) suggest a close
evolutionary relationship between
dinosaurs and modern birds?
A. They had similar nesting behavior.
B. Their leg/foot anatomy is similar.
C. The amino acid composition of certain
proteins is similar.
D. They both had feathers.
E. All of the above.
What feature(s) suggest a close
evolutionary relationship between
dinosaurs and modern birds?
A. They had similar nesting behavior.
B. Their leg/foot anatomy is similar.
C. The amino acid composition of certain
proteins is similar.
D. They both had feathers.
E. All of the above.
Features shared by birds and dinosaurs
1.Pubis (one of the three bones making up the vertebrate pelvis) shifted from an anterior to a more
posterior orientation and bearing a small distal "boot".
2.Elongated arms and forelimbs and clawed manus (hands).
3. Large orbits (eye openings in the skull).
4. Flexible wrist with a semi-lunate carpal (wrist bone).
5. Hollow, thin-walled bones.
6. 3-fingered opposable grasping manus (hand), 4-toed pes (foot); but supported by 3 main toes.
7. Reduced, posteriorly stiffened tail.
8. Elongated metatarsals (bones of the feet between the ankle and toes).
9. S-shaped curved neck.
10. Erect, digitgrade (ankle held well off the ground) stance with feet positioned directly below the body.
11. Similar eggshell microstructure.
12. Teeth with a constriction between the root and the crown.
13. Functional basis for wing power stroke present in arms and pectoral girdle (during motion, the arms
were swung down and forward, then up and backwards, describing a "figure-eight" when viewed laterally).
14. Expanded pneumatic sinuses in the skull.
15. Five or more vertebrae incorporated into the sacrum (hip).
16. Straplike scapula (shoulder blade).
17. Clavicles (collarbone) fused to form a furcula (wishbone).
18. Hingelike ankle joint, with movement mostly restricted to the fore-aft plane.
19. Secondary bony palate (nostrils open posteriorly in throat).
20. Small, feathered dinosaurs were recently found in China. It appears that many coelurosaurs were cloaked
in an external fibrous covering that could be called "protofeathers."
Blue-eyed Shag Nesting Colony
This is the first record of a dinosaur nesting colony from Mongolia and
represents the largest known non-avian tetrapod colony.
Egg Laying behavior

“Although some
attributes of modern avian
reproduction had their origin within
theropod dinosaurs (e.g. oviraptors) even
the most derived non-avian theropods
DOI: 10.1642/AUK-15-216.1 lack key features of modern birds.”
Archaeopteryx

The pelvis and furcula


(wishbone) of
Archaeopteryx was more
like that of some
Maniraptoran dinosaurs
than that of modern birds.
The anatomy of bird feet
show a striking similarity to
those of therapod
Hypsilophodontid dinosaur - Othnielia
dinosaurs.
Artist
reconstruction
of dinosaur
foot.

The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)


The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)
The southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)
Corythoraptor jacobsi ~ 72 MYA, China
doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05016-6
“The cassowary-
like crest in the
skull is similar to
the casque of
cassowaries, which
serves a
sociosexual role
and functions in
visual and acoustic
display. It is
therefore
reasonable to
assume that the
cassowary-like
crest of
Corythoraptor
jacobsi was
probably utilized in
a similar way,”
- Prof. Junchang

doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05016-6
Collagen is the main Lufengosaurus
structural protein in
the extracellular
space in the
various
connective
tissues in
animal bodies.
DOI: 10.1126/science.1165069
Feathers in 80 million
year old amber

DOI: 10.1126/science.1203344
Birds ARE dinosaurs!
Why did the dinosaur ancestors of birds have feathers?

1. Insulation

2. Sexual display
Yutyrannus

Similicaudipteryx
3. Gliding

Discuss with your group mates. Microraptor


“Differences between
adults and juveniles of
the oviraptorosaur
Similicaudipteryx
suggest that a radical
morphological change
occurred during
feather development,
as is the case for
modern feathers.”

http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/feather_evolution.htm
The flight
feathers of birds
have an
asymmetry to
them (stage 5)
that
distinguishes
them from
other
feathers.
Feathers are an
example of a biological
exaptation in which
feathers originally
evolved for one
purpose (e.g.
insulation) but then
were modified and
selected for another
purpose (e.g. flight).
Any other
advantage to
having long
feathers on
forelimbs?

Caihong
Using an airfoil (on forelimbs and tail) to turn
quickly as a way of keeping up with the sudden
movements of smaller, more nimble prey.
What was it like?
“But we’re arguing that this is the first
lung tissue preservation that is
anatomically informative,”
- Jingmai O’Connor
Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Beijing
Macroscopic and microscopic lung morphology in
Archaeorhynchus STM7-11 and living birds.

©2018 by National Academy of Sciences Xiaoli Wang et al. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1805803115


The highest-flying bird ever recorded was a Ruppel's
griffon vulture. This enormous bird, with a wingspan of
more than 3m, was sucked into a jet engine in 1975, at an
altitude of 11,278m (37,000 ft.). That is more than 2km
higher than the summit of Everest.
What is it that enables some birds
to fly at extraordinary altitudes?
A. They have extraordinarily large lungs.
B. They have a highly efficient form of
hemoglobin.
C. They have an unusually high number of
red blood cells per liter of blood.
D. They have a fundamentally different
respiratory pathway from mammals.
E. They have a low metabolic rate that
mimics hibernation while flying.
What is it that enables some birds
to fly at extraordinary altitudes?
A. They have extraordinarily large lungs.
B. They have a highly efficient form of
hemoglobin.
C. They have an unusually high number of
red blood cells per liter of blood.
D. They have a fundamentally different
respiratory pathway from mammals.
E. They have a low metabolic rate that
mimics hibernation while flying.
Unihemispheric slow-wave sleep
Birds have a very efficient respiratory
system in that the air passes through the
lungs in a single direction rather than
the inflating/deflating mechanism found
in mammals. https://youtu.be/kWMmyVu1ueY
During inhalation the
posterior air sacs fill with
fresh air (green) and the
anterior air sacs fill with
CO2 rich air (pink).
Lung alveoli
(singl.
Alveolus) are
unique to
mammals.

https://youtu.be/mZvzl8KH6iI
What factors drove the
A. Large surface to
evolution of the lungs? volume ratio.
B. The surface of
both the alveoli
and the blood
vessel are thin.
C. The lining is moist
(allowing for good
gas exchange)
D. Good supply of
blood (many
capillaries)
E. Good ventilation
https://youtu.be/mZvzl8KH6iI
F. All of the above.
What factors drove the
A. Large surface to
evolution of the lungs? volume ratio.
B. The surface of
both the alveoli
and the blood
vessel are thin.
C. The lining is moist
(allowing for good
gas exchange)
D. Good supply of
blood (many
capillaries)
E. Good ventilation
https://youtu.be/mZvzl8KH6iI
F. All of the above.
Gas
exchange
is critical
to all
animals.

http://people.eku.edu/ritchisong/birdrespiration.html
The largest insects that ever lived are members of the
extinct dragonfly-like order Protodonata. Protodonata’s
fossil record ranges from the Late Carboniferous to the
Late Permian periods.
Why?
Higher concentrations of oxygen on the
outside allowed it to diffuse deeper into
the body cavity of the animal.
https://youtu.be/wDmHNlqiSzE

Fossil evidence shows that dinosaurs had the same


sort of respiration system as do modern birds.
Birds ARE dinosaurs!
Man eating bird!
Phorusrhacids, colloquially
known as terror birds, are an
extinct clade of large
carnivorous flightless birds
that were the largest species
of apex predators in South
America during the Cenozoic
era; their temporal range
covers from 62 to 1.8 million
years ago.
Human vs. Terror Bird?
Man eating bird!
How did birds
survive the K/Pg
extinction event?
How did birds survive the K/Pg
extinction event?
A. They hibernated throughout the period
without sunlight.
B. They flew to those parts of the planet
that were not affected by the meteor.
C. They survived as dormant eggs until
temperatures returned to normal.
D. They got by consuming those things that
had not been destroyed.
How did birds survive the K/Pg
extinction event?
A. They hibernated throughout the period
without sunlight.
B. They flew to those parts of the planet
that were not affected by the meteor.
C. They survived as dormant eggs until
temperatures returned to normal.
D. They got by consuming those things that
had not been destroyed.
Early Evolution of Modern Birds
Structured by Global Forest Collapse at
the End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction
• The end-Cretaceous mass extinction devastated forest
habitats globally
• Tree-dwelling birds failed to persist across the end-
Cretaceous extinction event
• All bird groups that survived the end-Cretaceous
extinction were non-arboreal
• The early ancestors of many modern tree-dwelling bird
groups were ground-dwelling

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062
The only birds to
survive the
Cretaceous–
Palaeogene (K–Pg)
extinction event
were small-bodied
and ground-dwelling
species.
How could we
determine this?
How can we know
which lineage(s) of
birds survived the K/T
extinction event and
why?
Phylogenetics to
the rescue!

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.04.062
“Phylogenetic analyses of
both molecular and
morphological data
support the monophyletic
Palaeognathae (the
tinamous and flightless
ratites)”

doi:10.1038/nature15697
https://youtu.be/fWNJE6t6fZE