Pumps & Pipes

Pumps & Pipes

While our bodies are fighting the elements externally, internally another battle is being waged. We’re in a never-ending race against time to distribute life-sustaining supplies to every cell in our systems.

Using the power of pumps, pipes, and pressure, living things move air and fluids to where they’re needed most:

  • Warm-blooded creatures like birds and mammals have a four-chambered heart that pumps blood on two separate paths to the lungs and body.
  • Cold-blooded animals such as fish, amphibians, and reptiles have hearts with fewer chambers that pump blood in different flow patterns, depending upon the organism’s lifestyle.
  • Insects sometimes have more than one heart (typically a long, contracting tube) and use tracheal tubes rather than lungs to pull oxygen into every cell.
  • Trees don’t have hearts and lungs, but they possess tiny tubes that wick up water from the roots and distribute nutrients to the leaves.

So even though living things from different branches of life have evolved different distribution systems, the underlying mechanical principles that govern how these systems work are often quite similar.