Robert is a palaebiologist studying his PhD at the University of Manchester, UK, on breathing mechanics and respiratory evolution in birds, crocodilians and dinosaurs. His broad interests are on the relationship between skeletal form and organism function, studying the anatomy and biomechanics of both living and fossil animals with the aid of X-ray visualisation tools and computer models & simulations. As an undergrad he studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, followed by an MSc in Palaeobiology at Bristol, before pursuing his PhD in Manchester.
When not researching, he is usually found on stage, performing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Robert Brocklehurst, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT
by Robert Brocklehurst*1
Introduction and background
Dinosaurs fascinate people more than almost any other group of fossil animals, and the general public is interested in many open questions on dinosaur biology. How fast could dinosaurs run? Were they warm blooded? If they had feathers, does that mean they could fly? These questions focus on dinosaur metabolism and movement, both of which are intimately linked with the respiratory system, because breathing — the ability to take in air, extract oxygen from it and then expel it from the body along with waste carbon dioxide— sets a fundamental upper limit on how much activity an organism is capable of.
How did dinosaurs breathe? That’s probably not a question palaeontologists get asked as often as the others. Breathing is something we a