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Re: SPECULATION: pterosaur extinction versus bird survival

At 01:34 PM 07/02/01 +0000, Mike Taylor wrote:
Please excuse my naivety, but is it possible that Pterosaur lungs were
arranged radically differently from those of birds and other
dinosaurs?  When I look at pterosaurs.net's skeletal reconstruction of
_Quetzalcoatlus_ (http://www.pterosaurs.net/Quetzalcoatlus.html) I
can't help thinking that all that neck space is wasted if they are
built at all like modern animals.  But what if the lungs were partly
in the neck itself?  Or less radically, perhaps the tubing from the
mouth to the lungs proper could absorb some of the oxygen en route?

Well, I would suspect that this is highly unlikely as it would inolve some extremely radical body plan readjustments. Neck space, though, is not "wasted" if there is an advantage to being long-necked (as there is for many birds, for rapid prey strikes etc), and adding stuff to the neck might well cut down on its maneuverability (which is probably the reason the neck is long in the first place).

For example: a number of birds (eg cranes) have extra-long tracheae that they use as sound resonators, but in every case I recall the extra length is stored somewhere in the breast cavity rather than "bulking out" the neck.

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:ornstn@home.com