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The Respiratory Structures and Breathing Mechanism in Humans and Animals

Adaptations of the respiratory structures

1 ) Amoeba
Gaseous exchange between the respiratory surface and the environment takes place by diffusion . a) Cellular respiration depletes the oxygen in cells but increases the carbon dioxide levels . b) The concentration gradients result in the diffusion of oxygen into the cells and the diffusion of carbon dioxide out of the cells .

c) Amoeba do not have specialised respiratory structures . d) The respiratory surface of this unicellular organism is its entire plasma membrane .

e) It must have a large respiratory surface to ensure a maximum contact with the respiratory medium , that is , the air of water which is the source of oxygen . f) Simple diffusion alone is sufficient to transport the gases into , around and out of their bodies .

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of insect

2 ) Insects
The respiratory system of insects is known as the tracheal system . The tracheal system comprises a network of air tubes called tracheae .

Air enters the tracheae through tiny openings called spiracles located along the sides of the thorax and abdomen of an insect . Spiracles have valve which can open and close allowing air to go in and out of the body .

The tracheae are lined with rings of chitin which prevent they from collapsing . They are also impermeable to gases . The tracheae branch into fine tubes called tracheoles .

Certain insects like the grasshopper have air sacs in their tracheal system . These sacs contains air that speeds up the movement of gases to and from the tissues during vigorous body movements . \

THE STRUCTURAL ADAPTION OF TRACHEOLES FOR GASEOUS EXCHANGE 1) Insects inhale and exhale through the rhythmic contraction and expansion of their abdominal muscles . 2) The body movements and the contractions of abdominal muscles speed up the rate of diffusion of gases from the tgracheae into the body cells .

3) When an insects inhale , the abdominal muscles relax and the spiracles open . 4) Air pressure inside the tracheae decreases and air is drawn in .

5) When the insects exhale , the abdominal muscle contract . 6) The increased air pressure forces air out through the spiracles .

7) Because the tracheal tubes of insects carry circulatory system is not involved in transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide .

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of fish

3 ) Fish
Gills are specialised respiratory structures for gaseous exchange in water . Bony fish have 4 pairs of gills : 4 on the left and 4 on the right .

The gills are supported by a gill arch and protected by the operculum . Each gills have 2 rows of thin filaments arranged in a V shape .

The filaments consists of numerous thin walled lamellae . THE STRUCTURAL ADAPTATION OF GILLS FOR GASEOUS EXCHANGE INHALE EXHALE The floor of the buccal cavity lowers. When the mouth closes , the floor of the buccal cavity rises. At the same time , the opercular Water flows through the lamellae cavity enlarges and the operculum and gaseous exchange between the closes. blood capillaries and water takes place. This lowers the pressure in the At the same time, the opercular buccal cavity . cavity become smaller . Water with dissolved oxygen is The pressure in the buccal cavity is drawn into the mouth . higher than the pressure outside . The higher water pressure forces the operculum to open and water to flow out through the operculum .

The respiratory structure and breathing mechanism of amphibians

4 ) Amphibians The gaseous exchange occurs mainly through the skin and the lungs .


During times of inactivity , the gaseous exchange takes place through the skin . The skin is thin , permeable and constantly moist . These characteristics enable a rapid and efficient exchange of gases between the skin and the air . The skin is kept moist by mucus secreted by glands found on the surface of the body . Beneath the skin is a network of blood capillaries that transport respiratory gases to and from all the body cells .


The lungs of a frog consists of a pair of thin-walled sacs connected to the mouth through an opening called the glottis . The surface area for gaseous exchange in the lungs is increased by the presence of numerous inner partitions . Tehse membranes of the lungs are thin and moist to facilitate the efficient diffusion of respiratory gases in and out rapidly . The lungs are supplied with a rich of network of blood capillaries to transport the respiratory gases to body cells .

THE BREATHING MECHANISM OF FROGS As a frog breathes in through its nostrils , the bucco-pharyngeal floor lowers
and the glottis closes .

Fresh air is drawn into the bucco-pharyngeal cavity while stale air still
remains in the lungs

When the glottis opens , the nostrils close and the bucco-pharyngeal floor
raises . The increased air pressure forces air into the lungs .

The lungs expand when air is pushed in from the bucco-pharyngeal cavity . The rapid movements of the bucco-pharyngeal floor in the frog accumulate
fresh air for lung ventilation .

When the lung muscles contract , air is expelled from the lungs . This is
helped by the abdominal pressure and elasticity of the lungs .

Some air escapes through the nostrils while the rest of the air mixes with that
in the bucco-pharyngeal cavity.

The lungs of the frogs are not as efficient as human lungs are . A frog
doesnt have a rib cage or diaphragm to aid the contraction of the lungs .

However , the bucco-pharyngeal floor has strong muscular walls . It is

always moving upwards and downwards to enable air to be inhaled and exhaled through the nostrils .

These movement accumulate fresh air for lung ventilation .

The respiratory structure and the breathing mechanism of humans

5 ) Humans Gaseous exchange in mammals like humans occurs in the alveoli of the lungs . Air passes through the nostrils into the nasal cavity , pharynx , epiglottis , larynx and trachea before entering the lungs . The epithelial cells of the trachea are lined with cilia . Between the epithelial cells are goblet cells which secrete a sticky fluid called mucus . The mucus traps dust and microorganisms present in air while the rhythmic beating of the cilia sweeps the mucus together with the foreign particles towards the back of the mouth to be swallowed or coughed out . Hence , the air that enters the lungs is relatively free from dust and microorganisms .\ During its passage through the trachea , air is warmed to body the temperature and moistened .


1) The lungs contains millions of air sac called alveoli . The large number of alveoli provides a large surface area for gaseous exchange . 2) The inner surface of each alveolus is lined with a layer of moist epithelial cells which enable oxygen and carbon dioxide to dissolve in it and diffusion to take place . 3) The entire outer surface of each alveolus is covered by a dense network of blood capillaries . The network of blood capillaries provide a large surface area to volume ratio for the rapid diffusion and transport of respiratory gases .

4) The wall of an alveolus is very thin . It is only one cell thick . This allows the diffusion of gases across the membranes to take place easily .


INHALE 1 ) the external intercostal muscles contract while the internal intercostal muscles relax . 2 ) this action causes the rib cage to move upwards and outwards . 3 ) at the same time , the diaphragm muscle contract . The diaphragm lowers and flattens . 4 ) these 2 actions cause the volume of the thoracic cavity to increase , and the pressure of the thoracic cavity decreases 5 ) higher atmospheric pressure on the outside forces the air into the lungs .

EXHALE 1 ) the external intercostal musles relax while the internal intercostal musles contract . 2 ) this action causes the rib cage to move downwards and inwards . 3 ) at the same time , the diaphragm muscles relax . The diaphragm curves upwards (dome-shaped) 4 ) these 2 actions cause the volume of thoracic cavity to decrease , and the pressure of the thoracic cavity increases . 5 ) higher atmospheric pressure inside the lungs forces the air out of the lungs .