Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dinosaurs' Large Noses May Have Been Key To Physiological Processes

Date:
August 3, 2001
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
With only bones for clues, scientists continue to puzzle over many details of dinosaur appearances and physiology. Detective work by a paleontologist at Ohio University now indicates that the creatures' fleshy nasal passages were larger than had been thought, which could lead to more-realistic depictions and greater understanding of their respiratory functions.

With only bones for clues, scientists continue to puzzle over many details of dinosaur appearances and physiology. Detective work by a paleontologist at Ohio University now indicates that the creatures' fleshy nasal passages were larger than had been thought, which could lead to more-realistic depictions and greater understanding of their respiratory functions.

Related Articles


In the August 3 issue of the journal Science, National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researcher Lawrence Witmer reveals that nostrils on many dinosaurs were much farther from the eyes and closer to the mouths than previously depicted. By comparing telltale markings on bones from their present-day relatives, he has shown that many dinosaurs had large nasal passages that might have been important for heat exchange and other key physiological processes.

Witmer is an associate professor of biomedical sciences and an anatomist in the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine. X-ray examinations of skulls from more than 65 surviving dinosaur relatives - including crocodiles, birds and lizards - helped him infer the probable location of cartilage, blood vessels and other soft tissues that made up the extinct creatures' nasal cavities.

He discovered that nearly all animals share these traits, which gives weight to his assertion that previous depictions of dinosaur nostrils were inaccurate.

"Our findings were consistent, even in turtles and mammals," Witmer said. "We saw an unusual commonality of how the nasal components relate and are positioned. It turns out that the nostril positioning applies to almost all animals."

As a result, scientists may have to change the conventional view of dinosaur nostrils, which have until now been based on the placement of cranial cavities near the eye sockets. Witmer found the largest nasal passages in horned dinosaurs like Triceratops, duck-billed dinosaurs, and brontosaurs like Diplodocus, the latter of which was 80 to 90 feet long and weighed more than 40 tons.

Other scientists had studied dinosaur noses, Witmer said, but their focus was primarily on olfactory functions. He isn't only interested in how the animals were able to smell; his main goal is understanding overall dinosaur physiology. As his research progressed, Witmer was surprised to learn that no one had previously examined the position of nostrils.

"Learning the biological rules for assembling the bones of extinct animals, like dinosaurs, is notoriously hard," said Jack Hayes, NSF program director for ecological and evolutionary physiology. "But learning the rules for how to place the rest of the animal on those bones may be even harder. Because both the general public and many biologists are keenly interested in dinosaurs, new tools for reconstructing the anatomy and biology of dinosaurs are valuable. What's exciting about Witmer's findings is that they may make it possible to explore the function of dinosaur respiratory systems in more detail."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Dinosaurs' Large Noses May Have Been Key To Physiological Processes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010803083551.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2001, August 3). Dinosaurs' Large Noses May Have Been Key To Physiological Processes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010803083551.htm
National Science Foundation. "Dinosaurs' Large Noses May Have Been Key To Physiological Processes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010803083551.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dracula's Dungeon May Have Been Found in Turkey

Dracula's Dungeon May Have Been Found in Turkey

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Historians think they may have discovered a dungeon in Turkey where the Romanian prince who inspired Count Dracula was once held captive. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Doesn't Prove Megalodons Are Extinct, Never Needed To

Study Doesn't Prove Megalodons Are Extinct, Never Needed To

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) — How and why a study about when the giant prehistoric shark Megalodon went extinct got picked up as "proof" that it is. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
One-of-a-Kind BMW 507 Boat Found After 6 Decades

One-of-a-Kind BMW 507 Boat Found After 6 Decades

Buzz60 (Oct. 27, 2014) — BMW made just one BMW 507 boat, but it was lost for decades until a young man found and restored it. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shows the gorgeous boat! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins