6 in 60: Number 27 – Lungs

6in60

Another Tuesday, another 6 facts in 60 seconds. This one is all about the lungs and just a quick mention to the wonderful artist that is The Awkward Yeti, please go and check his comics out because if you like biology you’ll love him. Anyway lets go!

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How I feel every time! Credit to theawkwardyeti.com

  1. Simply put the lungs are a pair of breathing organs located with the chest which remove carbon dioxide from and bring oxygen to the blood.
  2. Adults take on average 15 to 20 breaths per minute. That’s equal to 20,000 breaths a day.
  3. A person’s lungs are not the same size. The right lung is a little wider than the left lung, but it is also shorter.
  4. If the inner surface of the lungs could be stretched out flat, they would occupy an area of around 80 to 100 square meters – about the size of half of a tennis court
  5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.
  6. The main cause of COPD is smoking. This is because smoking irritates and inflames the lungs, which results in scarring.

The Sources

The second fact comes from the american lung association. The first and third comes from the live science page on lungs. The fourth comes from innerbody.com I’d strongly suggest checking it out if you want to find out more it has a great pair of interactive lungs you can play around with! The fifth and sixth come from the nhs page on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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The Fish With The Lung

Miscellaneous

Yes, you did in fact read that title correctly. There is a fish with a lung! The fish is called coelacanth. It’s related to the first fish that crawled onto land 410 million years. It was long thought to be extinct but this is due to it living in the deep sea. New research involving x ray scans of the fish through its various life stages have found the exsistence of a lung like organ. 2

The research coming from the university of Rio de Janeiro found that the embryos had a fully functional lung. As the fish matures the organ becomes almost useless and is only used for bouyancy. This has the potential to mean because of the fish being a deep sea dweller that it used the lung to breathe.

The Difference between Gills and Lungs

The main difference between gills and lungs are that gills can extract dissolved oxygen water and lungs extract atmospheric oxygen. Gills work with a counter current system. 1This works by flowing blood around the gills and water around the gills in opposite directions (see diagram). The lamellae of the gills increase the surface area. Lungs work by getting atmospheric oxygen and diffusing that into capillaries. Then carbon dioxide diffuses back out and leaves the lungs. This all works with the help of intercostal muscles and differences in pressure. Gills can also remove excretory products however lungs cannot.

Although the lung in the coelacanth does not work the news of this mystifying fish just shows how little we know about the deep ocean. I look forward to hearing more about the wonderful world of the deep sea in the near future.

Other Articles on the fish:

New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28181-huge-relative-of-first-fish-to-crawl-on-land-has-a-lung/

Discovery news: http://news.discovery.com/animals/living-fossil-coelacanth-has-an-obsolete-lung-150915.htm

The Paper: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150915/ncomms9222/full/ncomms9222.html