18.3 Circulatory Pathways

The circulatory patterns are of two types – open or closed. Open circulatory system is present in arthropods and molluscs in which blood pumped by the heart passes through large vessels into open spaces or body cavities called sinuses.

Annelids and chordates have a closed circulatory system in which the blood pumped by the heart is always circulated through a closed network of blood vessels. This pattern is considered to be more advantageous as the flow of fluid can be more precisely regulated.

All vertebrates possess a muscular chambered heart. Fishes have a 2-chambered heart with an atrium and a ventricle.

Amphibians and the reptiles (except crocodiles) have a 3-chambered heart with two atria and a single ventricle, whereas crocodiles, birds and mammals possess a 4-chambered heart with two atria and two ventricles.

In fishes the heart pumps out deoxygenated blood which is oxygenated by the gills and supplied to the body parts from where deoxygenated blood is returned to the heart (single circulation).

In amphibians and reptiles, the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the gills/lungs/skin and the right atrium gets the deoxygenated blood from other body parts.

However, they get mixed up in the single ventricle which pumps out mixed blood (incomplete double circulation). In birds and mammals, oxygenated and deoxygenated blood received by the left and right atria respectively passes on to the ventricles of the same sides.

The ventricles pump it out without any mixing up, i.e., two separate circulatory pathways are present in these organisms, hence, these animals have double circulation. Let us study the human circulatory system.

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