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New York Times



DINOSAURS AS THEY LIVED AND BREATHED
from The New York Times

In their long efforts to breathe life into dinosaurs, so famously extinct
in
all but human fancy, scientists may have been wrong about the position of
the nostrils through which these huge reptiles breathed, smelled,
regulated
body temperature and generally nosed around the Mesozoic landscape.

An anatomist and paleontologist at Ohio University, in Athens, comparing
dinosaur skull fossils and the physiology of their closest living
relatives,
has concluded that the fleshy nostrils were near the tip of the dinosaur's
long snout, not higher up and closer to the eyes, as had been widely
thought
for more than a century.

The new conclusions about the position of the nostrils could be important
in
understanding how dinosaurs found food and detected menacing predators or
desirable mates and how they attained such enormous sizes. The position of
the nostrils has a bearing on the organization of the entire respiratory
system. And, of course, it alters ideas about how dinosaurs looked.

The scientist, Dr. Lawrence M. Witmer, is reporting the findings in
today's
issue of the journal Science. Other dinosaur specialists endorsed the
research, financed by the National Science Foundation. They said the
revised
placement of the nostrils made so much sense that they were surprised no
one
had recognized it sooner.

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/03/science/03DINO.html