AskDefine | Define lungs

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. plural of lung

Extensive Definition

Human lungs are located in two cavities on either side of the heart. Though similar in appearance, the two are not identical. Both are separated into lobes, with three lobes on the right and two on the left. The lobes are further divided into lobules, hexagonal divisions of the lungs that are the smallest subdivision visible to the naked eye. The connective tissue that divides lobules is often blackened in smokers and city dwellers. The medial border of the right lung is nearly vertical, while the left lung contains a cardiac notch. The cardiac notch is a concave impression molded to accommodate the shape of the heart. Lungs are to a certain extent 'overbuilt' and have a tremendous reserve volume as compared to the oxygen exchange requirements when at rest. This is the reason that individuals can smoke for years without having a noticeable decrease in lung function while still or moving slowly; in situations like these only a small portion of the lungs are actually perfused with blood for gas exchange. As oxygen requirements increase due to exercise, a greater volume of the lungs is perfused, allowing the body to match its CO2/O2 exchange requirements.
The environment of the lung is very moist, which makes it hospitable for bacteria. Many respiratory illnesses are the result of bacterial or viral infection of the lungs.

Avian lungs

Avian lungs do not have alveoli, as mammalian lungs do, but instead contain millions of tiny passages known as para-bronchi, connected at both ends by the dorsobronchi and that the airflow through the avian lung always travels in the same direction - posterior to anterior. This is in contrast to the mammalian system, in which the direction of airflow in the lung is tidal, reversing between inhalation and exhalation. By utilizing a unidirectional flow of air, avian lungs are able to extract a greater concentration of oxygen from inhaled air. Birds are thus equipped to fly at altitudes at which mammals would succumb to hypoxia, and this also allows them to sustain a higher metabolic rate than an equivalent weight mammal. Because of the complexity of the system, misunderstanding is common and it is incorrectly believed that that it takes two breathing cycles for air to pass entirely through a bird's respiratory system. A bird's lungs do not store air in either of the sacs between respiration cycles, air moves continuously from the posterior to anterior air sacs throughout respiration. This type of lung construction is called circulatory lungs as distinct from the bellows lung possessed by most other animals.

Reptilian lungs

Reptilian lungs are typically ventilated by a combination of expansion and contraction of the ribs via axial muscles and buccal pumping. Crocodilians also rely on the hepatic piston method, in which the liver is pulled back by a muscle anchored to the pubic bone (part of the pelvis), which in turn pulls the bottom of the lungs backward, expanding them.

Amphibian lungs

The lungs of most frogs and other amphibians are simple balloon-like structures, with gas exchange limited to the outer surface area of the lung. This is not a very efficient arrangement, but amphibians have low metabolic demands and also frequently supplement their oxygen supply by diffusion across the moist outer skin of their bodies. Unlike mammals, which use a breathing system driven by negative pressure, amphibians employ positive pressure. The majority of salamander species are lungless salamanders which conduct respiration through their skin and the tissues lining their mouth. The only other known lungless tetrapods are also amphibians — the Bornean Flat-headed Frog (Barbourula kalimantanensis) and Atretochoana eiselti, a caecilian.

Invertebrate lungs

Some invertebrates have "lungs" that serve a similar respiratory purpose, but are not evolutionarily related to, vertebrate lungs. Some arachnids have structures called "book lungs" used for atmospheric gas exchange. The Coconut crab uses structures called branchiostegal lungs to breathe air and indeed will drown in water, hence it breathes on land and holds its breath underwater. The Pulmonata are an order of snails and slugs that have developed "lungs".


The lungs of today's terrestrial vertebrates and the gas bladders of today's fish have evolved from simple sacs (outpocketings) of the esophagus that allowed the organism to gulp air under oxygen-poor conditions. Thus the lungs of vertebrates are homologous to the gas bladders of fish (but not to their gills). This is reflected by the fact that the lungs of a fetus also develop from an outpocketing of the esophagus and in the case of gas bladders, this connection to the gut continues to exist as the pneumatic duct in more "primitive" teleosts, and is lost in the higher orders. (This is an instance of correlation between ontogeny and phylogeny.) There are currently no known animals which have both a gas bladder and lungs.

See also


lungs in Afrikaans: Long
lungs in Arabic: رئة
lungs in Guarani: Ñe'ãvevúi
lungs in Aymara: Chuyma
lungs in Azerbaijani: Ağciyər
lungs in Bengali: ফুসফুস
lungs in Min Nan: Hì (khì-koan)
lungs in Bosnian: Pluća
lungs in Bulgarian: Бял дроб
lungs in Catalan: Pulmó
lungs in Chuvash: Ӳпке
lungs in Czech: Plíce
lungs in Welsh: Ysgyfant
lungs in Danish: Lunge
lungs in German: Lunge
lungs in Dhivehi: ފުއްޕާމޭ
lungs in Spanish: Pulmón
lungs in Esperanto: Pulmo
lungs in Basque: Birika
lungs in French: Poumon
lungs in Galician: Pulmón
lungs in Korean: 허파
lungs in Croatian: Pluća
lungs in Ido: Pulmono
lungs in Indonesian: Paru-paru
lungs in Icelandic: Lunga
lungs in Italian: Polmone
lungs in Hebrew: ריאה
lungs in Javanese: Paru-paru
lungs in Georgian: ფილტვები
lungs in Kurdish: Pişik
lungs in Latin: Pulmo
lungs in Lithuanian: Plautis
lungs in Lingala: Limpúlúlú
lungs in Hungarian: Tüdő
lungs in Macedonian: Бел дроб
lungs in Malayalam: ശ്വാസകോശം
lungs in Maltese: Pulmun
lungs in Malay (macrolanguage): Paru-paru
lungs in Dutch: Long (orgaan)
lungs in Newari: लुङ
lungs in Japanese: 肺
lungs in Norwegian: Lunge
lungs in Norwegian Nynorsk: Lunge
lungs in Occitan (post 1500): Palmon
lungs in Uzbek: Oʻpka
lungs in Pangasinan: Bala
lungs in Pushto: سږي
lungs in Polish: Płuco
lungs in Portuguese: Pulmão humano
lungs in Romanian: Pulmon
lungs in Quechua: Surq'an
lungs in Russian: Лёгкие
lungs in Albanian: Mushkëria
lungs in Sicilian: Purmuna
lungs in Simple English: Lung
lungs in Slovak: Pľúca
lungs in Slovenian: Pljuča
lungs in Serbian: Плућа
lungs in Finnish: Keuhkot
lungs in Swedish: Lunga
lungs in Tagalog: Baga (anatomiya)
lungs in Tamil: நுரையீரல்
lungs in Telugu: ఊపిరితిత్తులు
lungs in Thai: ปอด
lungs in Vietnamese: Phổi
lungs in Turkish: Akciğer
lungs in Ukrainian: Легені
lungs in Võro: Täü
lungs in Yiddish: לונג
lungs in Chinese: 肺
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