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The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience 3rd Ed.

TitleThe Encyclopedia of Neuroscience 3rd Ed.
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWilson, RJA, Taylor, BE, Harris, MB
ChapterEvolution of vertebrate respiratory control
Abstract

Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon is more thanmatched by our vertebrate ancestors who transitionedto land. Like the first astronauts, the firstvertebrates to invade land were well prepared. Keyaspects of the respiratory controller appear to havepredated tetrapods and to have been present in fishsome 400 Ma.Our understanding of central respiratory control isrudimentary. There have been relatively few modernstudies in fish, frogs, and reptiles; the vast majority ofdata come from studies in mammals. Evolutionarytheories should be grounded by data derived fromdiverse species; in this case, unfortunately, they arenot. In effect, investigators are putting together ajigsaw puzzle of which most of the pieces are currentlymissing. Consequently, the evolutionary frameworkon which this article is based is speculative, andthe homology hypothesis is very much a work inprogress. It is presented here in the hope of provokingmore work in this exciting area.

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