PMID: 11369532May 23, 2001Paper

Which came first, the lung or the breath?

Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
S F PerryJ E Remmers


Lungs are the characteristic air-filled organs (AO) of the Polypteriformes, lungfish and tetrapods, whereas the swimbladder is ancestral in all other bony fish. Lungs are paired ventral derivatives of the pharynx posterior to the gills. Their respiratory blood supply is the sixth branchial artery and the venous outflow enters the heart separately from systemic and portal blood at the sinus venosus (Polypteriformes) or the atrium (lungfish), or is delivered to a separate left atrium (tetrapods). The swimbladder, on the other hand, is unpaired, and arises dorsally from the posterior pharynx. It is employed in breathing in Ginglymodi (gars), Halecomorphi (bowfin) and in basal teleosts. In most cases, its respiratory blood supply is homologous to that of the lung, but the vein drains to the cardinal veins. Separate intercardiac channels for oxygenated and deoxygenated blood are lacking. The question of the homology of lungs and swimbladders and of breathing mechanisms remains open. On the whole, air ventilatory mechanisms in the actinopterygian lineage are similar among different groups, including Polypteriformes, but are distinct from those of lungfish and tetrapods. However, there is extreme variation within this apparent dichoto...Continue Reading


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