News of the WeekPaleontology

Stunning Fossil Shows Breath of a Dinosaur

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Science  22 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5401, pp. 468
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5401.468

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A team led by a respiratory physiologist has used an ultraviolet lamp, which can coax out patterns invisible in ordinary light, to conjure up the outlines of the internal organs of a 100-million-year-old dinosaur. Now the researcher and his colleagues are using the arrangement of internal organs to bolster their idea that dinosaur lungs were structurally simple, most resembling those of living crocodiles. Their analysis, presented on page 514, would imply that these animals were basically cold-blooded, but the researchers think that these simple lungs were also able to power periods of high metabolism and intense activity, giving a hybrid answer to the old question of whether dinosaurs were cold- or warm-blooded. Not everyone is convinced, but many researchers are intrigued by the idea.