[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: [Re: 3 1/2 vs. 4 chambered hearts]

As a follow up to this, the Journal of Experimental Biology did a wonderful
anatomical study of the crocodylian heart and how it works when breathing
normally and when diving. 

Judging from all the derivations required to achieve a 3 chambered mode while
underwater, I'd say the evidence seems to clearly point to a primitive
crocodilian condition of 4 chambers.

The ref is: 

Axelsson, M., Craig, F.E., LÖFman, C.O., Nilsson, S. and Grigg, G.C. (1996).
Dynamic anatomical study of cardiac shunting in crocodiles using
high-resolution angioscopy. J. exp. Biol. 199, 359-365

The abstract can  be read online at: 


And the full version (for those with Adobe Acrobat reader) can be read in PDF
version at:




"Matthew Bonnan" <mbonnan@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Ken Kinman writes:
> >     But what most interests me right now is the evolution of the chambers
> >of the heart.  Is it not possible that ALL reptiles except Ornithodira had

> >3
> >1/2 chambered hearts (including crocodyliforms) and that true 
> >four-chambered
> >hearts (other than the separate evolution in the mammalian lineage) only
> >evolved in Ornithodirans----perhaps all ornithodirans (including
> >pterodactyls?), or just the dinosaur-bird clade, or possibly even just
> >certain branches of dinosaurs (including those that gave rise to birds).
> >     Is there any reason at all to assume that all archosauromorphs had
> >four-chambered hearts, and crocodyliformes reverted back to a 3 1/2
> >chambered heart?  This doesn't seem very parisimonious to me, unless I am
> >unaware of evidence that would make it more parsimonious.  A
> >heart in birds, plus all (or some) dinosaurs makes more sense, and all 
> >other
> >archosauromorphs with some version of 3 1/2 hearts.
> Well, crocodiles do have a four-chambered heart.  They have two seperate 
> atria (the top chambers) and two seperate ventricles (the bottom chambers). 

> Unlike the condition in mammals or birds where there is one large artery 
> called the aorta from which all the subsequent blood vessels begin to 
> diverge, crocodilians retain two aortae with a shunt in between that can be

> closed or opened.  It is the right aorta that contains oxygen rich blood and

> sends it (via many blood vessels of course) to the head and brain.  The left

> aorta (from recollection, will check facts tomorrow and post an update) 
> contains a mixture of oxygen-rich and oxygen poor blood.  The shunt between

> the aortae opens or closes depending on the activity of the animal and how 
> much oxygen needs to be conserved.
> Interestingly, in mammals, our aorta rises from the heart and dives 
> inferiorly (down) in a J-shape to the anatomical left, sending off three 
> major arteries toward the head -- the brachiocephalic, left common carotid,

> and left subclavian.  We see the reverse in birds: their single aorta rises

> from the heart and dives inferiorly in a J-shape to the anatomical RIGHT.  
> As I stated above, it is the RIGHT aorta in a croc that sends the oxygen 
> rich blood to the brain.  Therefore, we have a potential model system in the

> croc of an ancestral four-chambered heart with two aortae that may have 
> given rise to a bird-style heart in ornithodirans in which the right aorta 
> became dominant.  Apparently from these observations, we might guess that 
> synapsids (ancestors to mammals) had a similar (though not, perhaps, 
> identical) setup (two aortae), but their LEFT aorta delivered the 
> oxygen-rich blood the brain, not the right.  Therefore, the LEFT aorta in 
> mammals became dominant.
> So, crocs are probably not reverting to a 3 chambered heart (technically, 
> most "reptiles" have five chambers -- something for another post!) but 
> rather retaining a potentially primitive archosaurian character: a definite

> four-chambered heart.  Add to this their paternal instincts and their 
> ability to draw their forelimbs and hindlimbs out of a sprawl and underneath

> their body, and again we have a nice model animal for the earlier 
> archosaurs.

> "Yes I know."  This is very simplified: crocs have a very interesting, 
> unique, and cool evolutionary history of their own, and some of the 
> characters they have are definitely modified from the basal stock of 
> archosaur to be sure.  In fact, for locomotion, much recent study and 
> evidence suggests early crocs had upright limbs that were later re-modified

> for a sprawling gait: hence their ability to switch between a sprawl and 
> what is usually called the "high walk" with the legs drawn under the body.
> So, there is a functional reason to suggest that the ancestor of both birds

> and crocs (or ornithodirans and crurotarsi) had four-chambered hearts.  And

> another functional reason why crocs appear to be more closely related to 
> birds than to the other "reptiles."
> Confused yet? =)
> Matt Bonnan
> ________________________________________________________________________
> Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com

Jurassosaurus's Reptipage: A page devoted to the study of the reptilia:


Get free email and a permanent address at http://www.netaddress.com/?N=1