Modern birds might have dinosaur lungs to thank for their existence
Birds: They’re just like us. Except their lungs are small in comparison to their body size (much smaller than ours, by this metric) and they have a set of air sacs, nine in total, that run down the sides of their bodies.
A newly described fossil found in China shows that birds evolved one of these notable features very, very early–while they were still dinosaurs, in fact. A team of researchers from China and South Africa just published a study detailing the presence of what they believe to be lung tissue in the fossil. This is the first time evidence of lungs has been found in an avian dinosaur fossil, and it may help explain why one group of avian dinosaurs—the Ornithumorpha, of which this fossil was a member—was able to survive the extinction event that killed the dinosaurs and continue to evolve into modern birds.