About Us
International Cooperation
Education & Training
Join Us
Societies & Publications
   Location: Home > Papers

Details of the Publication
Paper Code  
Title   Archaeorhynchus preserving significant soft tissue including probable fossilized lungs
Authors   Xiaoli Wang
Corresponding Author   Zhonghe Zhou
Year   2018
Title of Journal   PNAS
Abstract   We describe a specimen of the basal ornithuromorph Archaeorhynchus spathula from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation with extensive soft tissue preservation. Although it is the fifth specimen to be described, unlike the others it preserves significant traces of the plumage, revealing a pintail morphology previously unrecognized among Mesozoic birds, but common in extant neornithines. In addition, this specimen preserves the probable remnants of the paired lungs, an identification supported by topographical and macro- and microscopic anatomical observations. The preserved morphology reveals a lung very similar to that of living birds. It indicates that pulmonary specializations such as exceedingly subdivided parenchyma that allow birds to achieve the oxygen acquisition capacity necessary to support powered flight were present in ornithuromorph birds 120 Mya. Among extant air breathing vertebrates, birds have structurally the most complex and functionally the most efficient respiratory system, which facilitates their highly energetically demanding form of locomotion, even in extremely oxygen-poor environments. Archaeorhynchus is commonly resolved as the most basal known ornithuromorph bird, capturing a stage of avian evolution in which skeletal indicators of respiration remain primitive yet the lung microstructure appears modern. This adds to growing evidence that many physiological modifications of soft tissue systems (e.g., digestive system and respiratory system) that characterize living birds and are key to their current success may have preceded the evolution of obvious skeletal adaptations traditionally tracked through the fossil record.
Full Text  
Full Text Link   http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/10/16/1805803115http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/10/16/1805803115