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Cardiovascular dynamics inCrocodylus porosus breathing air and during voluntary aerobic dives


Pressure records from the heart and out-flow vessels of the heart ofCrocodylus porosus resolve previously conflicting results, showing that left aortic filling via the foramen of Panizza may occur during both cardiac diastole and systole. Filling of the left aorta during diastole, identified by the asynchrony and comparative shape of pressure events in the left and right aortae, is reconciled more easily with the anatomy, which suggests that the foramen would be occluded by opening of the pocket valves at the base of the right aorta during systole. Filling during systole, indicated when pressure traces in the left and right aortae could be superimposed, was associated with lower systemic pressures, which may occur at the end of a voluntary aerobic dive or can be induced by lowering water temperature or during a long forced dive. To explain this flexibility, we propose that the foramen of Panizza is of variable calibre. The presence of a ‘right-left’ shunt, in which increased right ventricular pressure leads to blood being diverted from the lungs and exiting the right ventricle via the left aorta, was found to be a frequent though not obligate correlate of voluntary aerobic dives. This contrasts with the previous concept of the shunt as a correlate of diving bradycardia. The magnitude of the shunt is difficult to assess but is likely to be relatively small. This information has allowed some new insights into the functional significance of the complex anatomy of the crocodilian heart and major blood vessels.

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bpm :

beats per minute

LAo :

left aorta (aortic)

LV :

left ventricle (ventricular)


pulmonary artery

RAo :

right aorta (aortic)

RV :

right ventricle (ventricular)

SC :

subclavian artery


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Grigg, G.C., Johansen, K. Cardiovascular dynamics inCrocodylus porosus breathing air and during voluntary aerobic dives. J Comp Physiol B 157, 381–392 (1987).

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  • Systemic Pressure
  • Ventricular Pressure
  • Pressure Record
  • Lower Systemic Pressure
  • Complex Anatomy