How did the four-chambered heart in both mammals and birds evolve independently from a three-chambered heart in their common ancestors amongst early reptiles? From a teleological point of view, this parallel evolutionary transition is consistent with rise in metabolism associated with the evolution of endothermy – the ability to maintain high and stable body temperatures – in both mammals and birds. However, it is not given that birds and mammals would solve the functional challenge of elevating oxygen transport by evolving so similar cardiovascular structures. Therefore I am interested in elucidating whether there are evolutionary constraints in the ancestral reptilian heart and whether there were merely a few possible avenues to provide the high blood pressure and high heart rates to provide the extra oxygen transport to the body.
Evolution of the four-chambered heart
Area of research:
1 Feb 2018 – 31 Jan 2019
Jens Christian Skou fellow
This fellowship has received funding from The Aarhus University Research Foundation.