Did Birds Get Their Lungs From Dinosaurs?

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Researchers discovered dinosaurs were more like birds than crocodiles in this important way.

There wasn't much oxygen back in dinosaur times. And in case you haven't heard, dinosaurs are BIG. So how did dinosaurs get oxygen? The answer will surprise you, provided your hand spasmed and you clicked on this article without reading the title:

Bird lungs.

Scientists at Manchester University in Indiana just discovered dinosaurs have bird lungs. Or really, birds have dinosaur lungs. The two animals have the same lungs, is what I'm saying.

The scientists originally thought dinosaurs would have reptile lungs, since dinosaurs were, you know, reptiles. Reptiles and dinosaurs evolved from a common ancestor. Birds, meanwhile, evolved from dinosaurs.

The researchers performed CT scans on 29 bird species and four crocodilian species, comparing their lung cavities with those of 16 dinosaur species. The researchers discovered the dinosaurs had lungs more resembling those of modern birds.

Reptiles have simpler lungs. So birds were lucky to stick with the dinosaur evolutionary trail for longer and end up with complicated, efficient dinosaur lungs. The dinosaurs also had skeletal structures and vertebrae closely resembling bird bones.

“If even the very first dinosaurs to evolve had bird-like lungs, this would go some way to explaining why dinosaurs became the dominant animal species of their time,” explained Bill Sellers, a professor who worked on the study. “Other animal groups simply may not have had lungs as well suited to extracting oxygen from the air. That simple evolutionary difference may have let dinosaurs rule.”

How the mighty have fallen, huh? Dinosaurs are now chickens. During dinosaur times, humans were just little rat-like animals hiding from dinosaurs. And now, we farm chickens.

Evolution takes payback seriously. It's a lesson the mighty always seem to forget: they won't be mighty forever.