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This Animated Infographic Shows Just How Differently Animals Breathe

Digital artist Eleanor Lutz is at it again. This designer — who also holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology — sure creates some incredible infographics merging science and art.

Last month, she beautifully illustrated the mechanics of flapping wings. This month, she’s focused on how three “particularly awesome” animals — humans, birds, and grasshoppers — breathe. Breathing is the most natural thing in the world, so much so that we rarely think about it. (Editor’s note: You are now in control of your own breathing. You’re welcome.) But every animal does it, and does it quite differently.

Breathing Info GIFClick to enlarge!

The three GIFs offer a simple yet stunning overview of respiratory systems, and seeing the three side by side highlights just how varied this basic function can be.

Humans respiration is rooted in the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle below in the chest that expands and contracts. When the diaphragm contracts it expands the lung cavity, lowering the pressure. Air rushes in through the nose and mouth to fill that cavity. As the diaphragm relaxes, the air is forced out.

Bird breathing is a bit more complex. Birds have nine air sacs that move inhaled air through the lungs in one direction. Air flows in a circle inside a bird’s body rather than going in and out by the same path, a setup that allows more oxygen to be absorbed by the blood.

Grasshoppers are completely different since they don’t have lungs or a circulatory system. Oxygen is diffused directly from the atmosphere into a series of tracheal tubes in the insect’s body.

The illustrations are both beautiful and informative in their own right. But, as Lutz says on her website, “The topic really lends itself to a short looped GIF so that was an added plus.”

You can buy a static version of Lutz’s poster here.

Feature image via Tabletop Whale

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