Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A 'Hearty' Eater: Big Meals Condition A Snake’s Heart

Date:
March 9, 2005
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A Burmese python is strong, but is it a model for human exercise? According an article published in the March 3 issue of the journal Nature, the snake’s eating habits make it a prime model of cardiovascular fitness.

The tip of the tail and a large bulge in the snake are the only remaining signs of a rat after being ingested by this Burmese python. The python s heart ventricle increases in mass after eating a large meal. The remodeling of its heart is in response to increased cardiovascular and respiratory demands that can last up seven days.
Credit: Bryan Rourke, California State University

A Burmese python is strong, but is it a model for human exercise? According an article published in the March 3 issue of the journal Nature, the snake’s eating habits make it a prime model of cardiovascular fitness. The heart has the amazing ability to adapt to altered physiological requirements, and, according to the authors, this cold-blooded snake may provide insights into how remodeling of the heart occurs in adapting to prolonged exercise and in response to some diseases.

The python does not eat frequently; it’s more of a binge eater. James Hicks at the University of California, Irvine, together with his colleagues, discovered the snake's tell-tale heart undergoes drastic physiological changes after the reptile consumes a large meal. Hicks observed that the snake’s oxygen consumption increased seven-fold within 24 to 48 hours after eating. This heightened metabolic state lasted for up to seven days and was accompanied by a rapid remodeling of the ventricle--the lower portion of the blood-pumping organ. In experiments, the python’s ventricle increased in mass by 40 percent within 48 hours.

Unlike a human heart, which has two ventricles or pumping chambers, a reptile heart has only one.

“In mammals, including humans, a 10-30 percent increase in ventricular mass can occur following several weeks to months of intense aerobic training,” said Hicks.

In the snake, the rapid ventricular growth coincided with an increased production of the muscle protein, myosin. Myosin is involved in muscle contraction, and hence, plays a key role in pumping blood.

Hicks and his colleagues propose that these animals could be an informative model for investigating fundamental mechanisms leading to cardiac remodeling and ventricular growth in other animals, including humans.

Hicks’ research is supported by the Integrative Organismal Biology program at the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "A 'Hearty' Eater: Big Meals Condition A Snake’s Heart." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050307215725.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2005, March 9). A 'Hearty' Eater: Big Meals Condition A Snake’s Heart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050307215725.htm
National Science Foundation. "A 'Hearty' Eater: Big Meals Condition A Snake’s Heart." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050307215725.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins