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Respiration

Animal cell All animals respire. A lot of people think respiration means breathing - this is not true. Respiration is a chemical reaction. It occurs in every cell in your body.

Get a better view of the cell

So what is respiration?
During normal human respiration, glucose (a type of sugar that you get from food) reacts with oxygen to produce energy. The energy is needed for growth, repair and movement. Water and carbon dioxide are bi-products of respiration - they need to be excreted.

So why do people get respiration confused with breathing?
Well, respiration usually requires oxygen, and animals get their oxygen by breathing.
Read on to find out more!

All vertebrate animals that live on land have lungs. When we breathe in, the muscle below the rib cage (called the diaphragm) is pulled down, and air gets sucked into the rib cage, filling the lungs. Blood cells circulating through tiny blood vessels near the lungs pick up oxygen and carry it around the body to the sites of respiration. Air is then forced out of the lungs as the diaphragm bows upwards.

Breathing

Parakeet So do all animals breathe in the same way?

Birds are different from humans in many ways. As you probably know, they fly, and their bodies are well adapted for flight. Their lungs are very efficient: they take in much more oxygen per breath than other animals do. Because they get this extra oxygen they have lots of energy to direct to the flight muscles in their wings - they can flap away for hours!

Toad Frogs and toads have lungs, but when they are in water they can also breathe through their skin.

Some animals don't have lungs - fish are the obvious examples. Can you think of any other animals without lungs?

What do they have instead?

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