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Aristotle
On the Parts of Animals

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6

The lung, then, is an organ found in all the animals of a certain class, because they live on land. For there must of necessity be some means or other of tempering the heat of the body; and in sanguineous animals, as they are of an especially hot nature, the cooling agency must be external, whereas in the bloodless kinds the innate spirit is sufficient of itself for the purpose. The external cooling agent must be either air or water. In fishes the agent is water. Fishes therefore never have a lung, but have gills in its place, as was stated in the treatise on Respiration. But animals that breathe are cooled by air. These therefore are all provided with a lung.

All land animals breathe, and even some water animals, such as the whale, the dolphin, and all the spouting Cetacea. For many animals lie half-way between terrestrial and aquatic; some that are terrestrial and that inspire air being nevertheless of such a bodily constitution that they abide for the most time in the water; and some that are aquatic partaking so largely of the land character, that respiration constitutes for them the man condition of life.

The organ of respiration is the lung. This derives its motion from the heart; but it is its own large size and spongy texture that affords amplitude of space for entrance of the breath. For when the lung rises up the breath streams in, and is again expelled when the lung collapses. It has been said that the lung exists as a provision to meet the jumping of the heart. But this is out of the question. For man is practically the only animal whose heart presents this phenomenon of jumping, inasmuch as he alone is influenced by hope and anticipation of the future. Moreover, in most animals the lung is separated from the heart by a considerable interval and lies above it, so that it can contribute nothing to mitigate any jumping.

The lung differs much in different animals. For in some it is of large size and contains blood; while in others it is smaller and of spongy texture. In the vivipara it is large and rich in blood, because of their natural heat; while in the ovipara it is small and dry but capable of expanding to a vast extent when inflated. Among terrestrial animals, the oviparous quadrupeds, such as lizards, tortoises, and the like, have this kind of lung; and, among inhabitants of the air, the animals known as birds. For in all these the lung is spongy, and like foam. For it is membranous and collapses from a large bulk to a small one, as does foam when it runs together. In this too lies the explanation of the fact that these animals are little liable to thirst and drink but sparingly, and that they are able to remain for a considerable time under water. For, inasmuch as they have but little heat, the very motion of the lung, airlike and void, suffices by itself to cool them for a considerable period.

These animals, speaking generally, are also distinguished from others by their smaller bulk. For heat promotes growth, and abundance of blood is a sure indication of heat. Heat, again, tends to make the body erect; and thus it is that man is the most erect of animals, and the vivipara more erect than other quadrupeds. For no viviparous animal, be it apodous or be it possessed of feet, is so given to creep into holes as are the ovipara.

The lung, then, exists for respiration; and this is its universal office; but in one order of animals it is bloodless and has the structure described above, to suit the special requirements There is, however, no one term to denote all animals that have a lung; no designation, that is, like the term Bird, applicable to the whole of a certain class. Yet the possession of a lung is a part of their essence, just as much as the presence of certain characters constitutes the essence of a bird.




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