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In fish and many invertebrates, respiration takes place through the gills
he respiratory system in plants also includes anatomical features such as holes on the undersides of
leaves known as stomata
Horses are obligate nasal breathers
Molluscs generally possess gills that allow exchange of oxygen from an aqueous environment into the
circulatory system.
Larger spiders, scorpions and other arthropods use a primitive book lung
Although birds have lungs they rely mostly on air sacs for ventilation
Most insects breathe passively through their spiracles (special openings in the exoskeleton) and the
air reaches the body by means of a series of smaller and smaller pipes called 'trachaea'
Normal resting respirations are 10 to 18 breaths per minute, with a time period of 2 seconds.
Inhalation is initiated by the diaphragm and supported by the external intercostal muscles
Plants use carbon dioxide gas in the process of photosynthesis, and exhale oxygen gas as waste. The
chemical equation of photosynthesis is 6 CO2 (carbon dioxide) and 6 H2O (water) and that makes
6 O2 (oxygen) and C6H12O6 (glucose). What is not expressed in the chemical equation is the capture
of energy from sunlight which occurs. Photosynthesis uses electrons on the carbon atoms as the
repository for that energy. Respiration is the opposite of photosynthesis. It reclaims the energy to
power chemical reactions in cells. In so doing the carbon atoms and their electrons are combined with
oxygen forming a gas which is easily removed from both the cells and the organism. Plants use both
processes, photosynthesis to capture the energy and respiration to use it.Plant respiration is limited by
the process of diffusion. Plants take in carbon dioxide through holes on the undersides of their leaves
known as stoma or pores. However, most plants require little air.

The Diaphragm's Role in Breathing

Inhalation and exhalation are the processes by which the body brings in oxygen and expels carbon
dioxide. The breathing process is aided by a large dome-shaped muscle under the lungs called the
Under normal conditions, the diaphragm is the primary driver of inhalation. When the diaphragm
contracts, the ribcage expands and the contents of the abdomen are moved downward. This results in a
larger thoracic volume and negative pressure (with respect to atmospheric pressure) inside the thorax. As
the pressure in the chest falls, air moves into the conducting zone. Here, the air is filtered, warmed, and
humidified as it flows to the lungs. During forced inhalation, as when taking a deep breath, the external
intercostal muscles and accessory muscles aid in further expanding the thoracic cavity. During inhalation
the diaphragm contracts.
Clearing the Air
Microscopic hairs, called cilia, are found along your air passages and move in a
sweeping motion to keep the air passages clean. But if harmful substances, such as
cigarette smoke, are inhaled, the cilia stop functioning properly, causing health
problems like bronchitis

It is a respiratory organ through which air is inhaled and exhaled. Nostrils (also known as external
nares) are the parts of the nose which facilitate the process of inhalation and exhalation.
Vestibule is a part of nostrils which is lined with coarse hair. It filters and humidifies the air entering the
nasal cavity.
The nasal septum divides the nasal cavity in two parts. Superior and lateral walls of the nasal cavity
are formed of nasal, maxillary, ethmoid, frontal and sphenoid bones. The floor of nasal cavity is

formed of hard and soft palates.

Cartilage is an external part of the nose which forms the tip. The bony shelves which project from lateral
walls of the nose are referred to as inferior, middle and superior nasal conchae.
Meatuses are the spaces present between conchae.
Pharynx is a tubular part of the respiratory system which allows the passage of air into lungs. It is located
behind the nasal and oral cavities. The different parts of pharynx are as follows:
Nasopharynx: It connects the upper portion of the throat with the nasal cavity.
Oropharynx: It is located between the soft palate and upper part of epiglottis.
Laryngopharynx: This part of the pharynx is located below the epiglottis. It opens into the esophagus
and larynx.
Pharynx is connected to the skull cavity by means of muscles and connective tissues.
Epiglottis : It is a flap-like structure (epiglottis) which prevents food or water from entering the trachea at
the time of swallowing.
Epiglottis is composed of cartilaginous tissue. It is located at the opening of larynx (back of the tongue);
the epiglottis is covered with mucous.
Since the epiglottis gets abraded easily (it lies in the digestive tract), its surface is covered with a layer of
non-keratinized and stratified squamous epithelial cells.
It is a part of the respiratory system which connects the trachea with laryngopharynx. The larynx controls
the flow of air at the time of breathing.
The larynx, also known as sound box, is formed of cartilages.
Epiglottis, thyroid and cricoid are the three important cartilages of larynx; other cartilages present inside
the larynx are corniculate, arytenoid and cuneiform.
Epiglottis prevents food from entering the respiratory tract. Corniculate cartilage facilitates the flap-like
action of epiglottis.
The trachea, also known as windpipe, extends from larynx to bronchi. In fact, the trachea gets branched
into bronchi. The trachea facilitates the flow of air towards the bronchi.
Trachea lies to the anterior side of the esophagus; it is tubular in shape with a diameter of 1 inch. and
length of 4.25 inch. Length of the trachea spans between the 6th cervical and 5th thoracic vertebrae.
The trachea is composed of 15-20 C-shaped pieces of hyaline cartilage. These pieces are held together by
tracheal muscles.
Bronchus (singular of bronchi) is a passage which allows the flow of air into lungs. The bronchi extend
from trachea to the lungs.
The tracheal tube, when divided into two at the caudal end, gives rise to the left and right bronchus.
The left bronchus is shorter than the right one; the left one is sub-divided into 2 lobar bronchi; right
bronchus, on the other hand, is sub-divided into 3 lobar bronchi.
Human lungs are conical organs present inside the pleural cavities. They carry out the work of supplying
the body with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.
The left lung is divided into 2 lobes (superior and inferior) while the right lung into 3 (superior, inferior
and middle).
Each lung possesses a triangular organ called hilum; blood vessels, nerves, lymphatics and bronchi pass

through the hilum.

The alveoli are sac-shaped bodies present inside the lungs, at the tip of alveolar ducts. The alveoli
function like an interface for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between lungs and capillaries.
Capillaries connect the alveoli with the rest of the body.
Alveoli are found in the lungs of mammals only.
Gas Exchange Process
The process of gas exchange in alveoli is characterized by inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon
Oxygen enters the blood cells by means of alveoli and a network of capillaries.
Oxygen is carried to the tissues of different parts of the body by means of blood.
Carbon dioxide is collected by the blood and carried to lungs.
Carbon dioxide diffuses from capillaries that surround the alveoli and is finally exhaled by lungs.
The diaphragm is formed of skeletal muscles. It creates a partition between the thoracic and abdominal
cavity.Contraction of muscles of the diaphragm leads to expansion of the thoracic cavity; contraction of
diaphragm is important from the point of expansion of lungs at the time of inhalation.
Interesting Facts about Respiratory System
There are over 600 million alveoli in the lungs of an adult human being. The hair which line the nasal
cavity act as filters and purify the air which enters the respiratory tract. The right and left lungs of the
human respiratory system do not have the same size. In fact, the left lung is a bit smaller than the right
one. The human body loses about 0.5 liters of water everyday through the process of breathing.The
process of respiration, apart from removing metabolic wastes, maintains the acid-base balance in our
Respiration Process
In terms of animal physiology, respiration is defined as the process in which oxygen from environment
enters the body and carbon dioxide from the body is released into the environment. The process of
respiration takes place in four stages: ventilation, pulmonary gas exchange, gas transport and peripheral
gas exchange.
In the ventilation stage, air moves in and out of the alveoli of lungs.
The gas exchange which takes place between pulmonary capillaries and alveoli is termed as pulmonary
gas exchange. Movement of gas within pulmonary capillaries, towards peripheral capillaries and back to
lungs is referred to as gas transport. The exchange of gases between tissues and tissue capillaries is
referred to as peripheral gas exchange.
The facts presented in this article give us a rough idea of the anatomy and functioning of the respiratory
system. The information about different organs in the respiratory system should allow you to understand
their structure and functions in a better manner.



Respiratory organ
Body surface
Body surface
Body surface
Body surface
Body surface
Skin (integument)



Aquatic insects (mayflies,

nymphs etc)
Damselfly nymphs
Scorpion, some spiders,
Scutigera and chilopods
Insects, some spiders
Some crabs (e.g. coconut
Aquatic forms
Terrestrial forms

Some teleost fishes
Fishes such as Misgurnus,
Ancistrus and Plecostomus

Tracheal gills
Caudal gills
Gill books
Book lungs (Diffusion lungs)
Branchiostegal lung (gill-like lung)
Skin (Cutaneous)
Ctenidia (gills)
Pulmonary sacs (lungs)
Dermal branchiae (skin gills)
Water lungs
Ventilation lungs
Internal gills, lungs (for lung fishes)
Swim bladder (air bladder)
Alimentary mucosa

Labyrinth organ A secondary

breathing organ
Skin, lungs, external gills (for
Ventilation Lungs
Ventilation Lungs
Ventilation Lungs
Composition of atmospheric air and expired air in a typical subject.
Note that only a fraction of the oxygen inhaled is taken up by the lungs.
Atmospheric Air
Expired Air (%)
N2 (plus inert gases)

Labyrinth fish

In mammals, the diaphragm divides the body cavity into the
abdominal cavity, which contains the viscera (e.g., stomach and intestines) and the
thoracic cavity, which contains the heart and lungs.

The inner surface of the thoracic cavity and the outer surface of the lungs are lined with pleural
membranes which adhere to each other. If air is introduced between them, the adhesion is broken and the
natural elasticity of the lung causes it to collapse. This can occur from trauma. And it is sometimes
induced deliberately to allow the lung to rest. In either case, reinflation occurs as the air is gradually
absorbed by the tissues.
Because of this adhesion, any action that increases the volume of the thoracic cavity causes the lungs to expand,
drawing air into them.
During inspiration (inhaling),

The external intercostal muscles contract, lifting the ribs up and out.
The diaphragm contracts, drawing it down .
During expiration (exhaling), these processes are reversed and the natural elasticity of the lungs returns
them to their normal volume. At rest, we breath 1518 times a minute exchanging about 500 ml of air.
In more vigorous expiration,
o The internal intercostal muscles draw the ribs down and inward
o The wall of the abdomen contracts pushing the stomach and liver upward.
Under these conditions, an average adult male can flush his lungs with about 4 liters of air at each breath.
This is called the vital capacity. Even with maximum expiration, about 1200 ml of residual air remain.