Washington, Feb 5 : A new research on American alligators' irculation systems has shown that crocodilians bypass their ungs to improve digestion and increase chances of their long-erm survival in the wild.
While it has long been known that reptiles have the ability to hunt blood past their lungs, the physiological function of this bility is poorly understood.
But now, Professor C.G. Farmer and her colleagues at the niversity of Utah, along with the Utah Artificial Heart nstitute, were able to demonstrate through their experiments ith American alligators that the bypass function is central in heir digestion process, and ultimately, their survival.
After feasting, crocodilians like to find a warm place to lie own while they digest their meal. Although on the outside this ehavior seems ordinary, inside their bodies an extraordinary vent takes place.
According to the research, during this period of digestion, rocodilians divert blood through a special vessel that bypasses he lung, named the left aorta.
Crocodilians can chose not to use the left aorta, in which case heir cardiovascular system is very much like the mammalian ystem.
However, when crocodilians are digesting a meal, they chose to hunt and direct CO2-rich blood straight to the stomach where lands make use of the CO2 to form gastric acid and bicarbonate. onsequently, this shunt enables crocodilians to secrete gastric cid at a rate that is approximately 10 times the highest rates easured in mammals.
If crocodilians are deprived of this ability to sidestep their ungs, their rates of acid secretion drop significantly and their bility to dissolve bone, a regular part of their normal diet, is mpaired.
This inability to digest meals quickly puts crocodilians at risk f death from within, or if they are young, by predators.
Crocodilians are cold-blooded animals that rely on basking in the un for warmth, and a warm belly is essential for high rates of cid secretion, good digestion, and rapid growth, but basking ites are not always plentiful and the biggest animals dominate hese sites.
Thus it may be critical for little crocodilians to rapidly ecrete acid while they have the opportunity to get warm.