Conventional wisdom has held that unidirectional pulmonary airflow is unique to birds and is an adaption enabling high rates of gas exchange, essential for sustaining flight as well as an endothermic metabolism. Recent visualizations and measurements of flow in the lungs of monitor and iguanid lizards show a bird-like pattern of unidirectional flow in these lineages. These findings call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of lung evolution in diapsids. This pattern of flow is not unique to birds. It is much older than previously believed, and it may be advantageous to the low-energy lifestyles typical of ectothermic animals.
Keywords: Birds; Ectothermic animals; Lung evolution; Lungs; Unidirectional airflow.
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