Calabrese, Ronald L. Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
Cozzens, Christine S. Biology Laboratory, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Heart and circulation in Aplysia
- Heart and circulation in decapod crustaceans
- Heart and circulation in the fruit fly
- Heart and circulation in medicinal leeches
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The muscular organ that propels the flow of “blood” in invertebrates. As might be expected from the great diversity of invertebrate forms, the hearts of invertebrates and their associated circulatory systems are very diverse in structure and function. When most of us think of a heart, we think of the massive muscular organ in our own chest, pulsing blood throughout the body. The blood itself carries oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and carries away wastes (carbon dioxide and nitrogenous waste). This vertebrate plan is not the only one that works, however, and the hearts and circulation systems (cardiovascular systems) of invertebrates often seem unrecognizable or strange to the uninitiated. In the first place, the circulatory system of many invertebrates is open—the “blood” sloshes through a large open cavity, the hemocoel, to nourish and replenish the organs; there are no capillaries or veins. Then, the invertebrate hearts themselves are so diverse as to defy easy classification, ranging from complete absence in roundworms to the centralized hearts of mollusks and insects and other arthropods (which have open circulatory systems) to the distributed hearts and closed circulatory systems of segmented worms, such as leeches.
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