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News Physiol Sci. 2002 Dec;17:241-5.

The physiological and evolutionary significance of cardiovascular shunting patterns in reptiles.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Irvine, 92697, USA.


The morphology of the reptilian heart results in the mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood (cardiac shunts). In birds and mammals cardiac shunts are detrimental, but in reptiles this condition is often considered a derived trait, conveying important physiological functions and favored by natural selection. Alternative views are advanced suggesting that, in reptiles, cardiac shunts represent either an ancestral condition or an embryonic trait.

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