In order for the Alligator Snapping Turtle to maintain life, it relies on seven essential functions, which are the feeding (digestive), respiratory, circulatory, excretory, response, movement, and reproductive systems. These functions/systems need to operate efficiently because the organism needs to keep homeostasis, which is the tendency of a system to retain stability to any situation that disturbs its environment.
Feeding, or the process of ingesting and eating food to gain nutrients for the body, is effortless for this species because they are organisms that eat both plants and other animals as their primary food source, or known as omnivores. The turtle clamps down and devours anything that gets in its path by using its large, strong jaws covered with sharp-edged beaks. The food particles they ingest are usually in large chunks or even whole. In their mouth, salivary glands produce enzymes that aid in softening and breaking down the food to make swallowing possible. After the food is swallowed, it travels to the opening of the digestive system called a gullet and down a tube-like structure called the esophagus, which is uniquely covered by numerous projections, called papillae. These sharp and keratinized projections aid in trapping food while excess water is expelled during swallowing. As the food falls down the esophagus and into the stomach, it undergoes the process of chemical digestion by powerful enzymes and acids that are released from the walls of the stomach, which aids in the decomposition of the food. Since most of the walls of the digestive organs are composed of smooth muscle, the food is easily pushed down from the stomach to a small, constricted muscular region called a sphincter or valve. The sphincter pushes the mixture of food and liquids into the small intestine, which is divided into three sections called the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine and is where three accessory organs, which is the pancreas, the liver, and the gallbladder, emit digestive enzymes to break down the mixture into smaller particles. The pancreas is located under the liver and serves three important functions, which is to produce hormones to regulate blood, enzymes to breakdown certain types of molecules, and a base that naturalizes stomach acids. The liver is located above the pancreas and produces bile, which is a fluid made out of salts and lipids that help dissolve and disperse fat molecules in the mixture of food. The gallbladder is a pouch-like organ located on top of the liver and functions as a storage area for the bile that the liver produces. From the duodenum, the food is passed into the second section of the small intestine called the jejunum. This elongated section provides the body maximum surface area for absorption of nutrients from the food. Being rapidly absorbed for nutrients, the nutrient-free food travels to the final section, which is the ileum. This area provides protection from bacteria that could be present in the food. Afterward, the leftover materials are pushed though another sphincter into the large intestine. This organ removes water from any undigested material that is left and is reabsorbed into the wall of the large intestine. Furthermore, the waste then is removed through the rectum and eliminated out the anus.
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Respiration, or the process of taking in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide, is a key component for the turtle’s body because breathing is needed for survival. In other words, this process supplies blood with oxygen in order for the blood to deliver oxygen to the rest of the body and additionally gives off the waste product of carbon dioxide to the environment. This system begins when the turtle takes a breath. The air goes through an opening called the glottis. This opening is located at the middle of its tongue and only opens during respiration, however; when this turtle submerges itself underwater, this opening closes due to breath holding. As the air passes through the glottis, it travels down through a muscular organ called the larynx to the trachea, or also known as the windpipe. At the end of the trachea, it branches out into two bronchi that are situated on the front and back of the heart. These tubes then enter the front part of the lungs and extend throughout them. The lungs are located near the carapace and vertebral column of the turtle. Turtles have multi-chambered lungs because of their adaptation to their environments. These sponge-like, elastic sacs draw in air, so it is possible for oxygen to diffuse into the blood and carbon dioxide to be removed. This process is known as ventilation and is aided by the flexing and contacting of the diaphragm. The turtle’s lungs are able to be filled or emptied out of air effectively by withdrawing their head and legs. When turtles submerge themselves in water for long periods, they are exposed to high carbon dioxide levels in their lungs. They have adapted to this difficulty by being able to increase or decrease the pH level, or acidity, of the blood. Another adaptation that turtles have is that they can empty their lungs more than other organisms can. In addition, they also hyperventilate, meaning they are able to breathe more deeply and rapidly that usual.
Another factor helping turtles is the ability to empty their lungs more completely than most other vertabrates. They also breath more rapidly and deeply than usually required – a process called hyperventilation.
Inhaled oxygen is normally stored in blood haemoglobin, but in turtles a significant amount is stored myoglobin in the muscles.
When turtles are active glycogen in the muscles is converted to lactic acid which is toxic, and has to be burned off with oxygen. In turtle this is done in a process called anaerobic glycolysis, a process that doesn’t require free oxygen. ( possibly due to using the oxygen stored in myoglobin ).
Therfore, turtles are able to exist for prolonged periods of time without respiration, in environments with little or no oxygen.
This lets the terrestrial turtles to wait until the danger is gone with their head and limbs retracted, and allows an aquatic turtle to dive and remain submerged for long periods of time.
This ability, combined with the phenomenon of slowing the heartbeat rate during a dive or in lower temperatures, enables turtles to hibernate during the cold seasons.
According to Dr. Pritchard’s book, the observed pulsating of the throat in turtles has nothing to do with the breathing process, but is simply ” sampling ” of the environment by pumping air over the olfactory surfaces.
elastic sacs with branching passages into which air is drawn, so that oxygen can pass into the blood and carbon dioxide be removed.
All sea turtles have multichambered lungs (there
are multiple lobes contained within the body of the
lung). The lobes are not obvious externally. The
lung tissue is spongy and highly elastic (Figs. 161
and 163) in sea turtles
Ventilation of the lungs occurs without the
assistance of a diaphragm. Marine turtles ventilate
by movements of ventral muscles of the pelvic and
pectoral girdles that attach to the plastron,
compression of the inguinal region, and rocking of
the shoulder muscle masses to change the pressure
within the pleuroperitoneal cavity. Sea turtles
have a large tidal volume. Under normal
circumstances, they breath-hold until blood
oxygen levels drop to low levels.
Snakes have an interesting reproductive process. The males have two penises called Hemipene and physically hold down the female untill they reproduce. this process can take up to two days because the female doesn’t want to reproduce and causes a struggle. the Male king cobra then leaves the female to lay the eggs and then the female leaves the eggs because king cobras are known to eat other snakes.
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