Alligator Muscles Move Lungs Image 1
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Alligator Muscles Move Lungs (Image 1)

July 2, 2010
Alligator Muscles Move Lungs (Image 1) T. J. Uriona, a University of Utah doctoral student in biology, holds a juvenile American alligator. Uriona and his professor, biologist C. G. Farmer, have published a study showing how alligators use muscles to move their lungs backward to help them dive, and to one side or the other to roll. Farmer and Uriona discovered gators maneuver silently by using their diaphragm, pelvic, abdominal and rib muscles to shift their lungs like internal floatation devices: toward the tail when they dive, toward the head when they surface and sideways when they roll. In this manner, they can navigate their watery environment without creating a lot of disturbance when they are trying to sneak up on their prey. The discovery in American alligators suggests "special muscles that manipulate the position of the lungs--and thus the center of buoyancy--may be an underappreciated but important means for other aquatic animals to maneuver in water without actively swimming," says Farmer. Those animals include crocodiles, African clawed frogs, some salamanders, turtles and manatees. The study by Farmer and Uriona, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (under grant IBN 01-37988, awarded to C.G. Farmer), the University of Utah and a private donor, Sharon Meyers of California, was published in the April 2008 issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology. To read more about the study, see the University of Utah news story, "How Alligators Rock and Roll." (Date of Image: March 2008) [See related image Here.]

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