Saturday, October 04, 2008

New Argentinean Theropod, Aerosteon riocoloradensis

Evidence for Avian Intrathoracic Air Sacs in a New Predatory Dinosaur from Argentina. 2008. P.C. Sereno, et al. PLoS ONE 3(9):e3303.

In addition to describing the new theropod, Aerosteon riocoloradensis, The authors present a four-phase model for the evolution of avian air sacs and costosternal-driven lung ventilation based on the known fossil record of theropod dinosaurs and osteological correlates in extant birds:

(1) Phase I—Elaboration of paraxial cervical air sacs in basal theropods no later than the earliest Late Triassic.

(2) Phase II—Differentiation of avian ventilatory air sacs, including both cranial (clavicular air sac) and caudal (abdominal air sac) divisions, in basal tetanurans during the Jurassic. A heterogeneous respiratory tract with compliant air sacs, in turn, suggests the presence of rigid, dorsally attached lungs with flow-through ventilation.

(3) Phase III—Evolution of a primitive costosternal pump in maniraptoriform theropods before the close of the Jurassic.

(4) Phase IV—Evolution of an advanced costosternal pump in maniraptoran theropods before the close of the Jurassic.

In addition, they conclude:

(5) The advent of avian unidirectional lung ventilation is not possible to pinpoint, as osteological correlates have yet to be identified for uni- or bidirectional lung ventilation.

(6) The origin and evolution of avian air sacs may have been driven by one or more of the following three factors: flow-through lung ventilation, locomotory balance, and/or thermal regulation.