The Heart of the South American Rattlesnake, Crotalus durissus
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Most anatomical and physiological studies of the sauropsid heart have focused on species with extraordinary physiologies, and detailed anatomical descriptions of hearts from sauropsids with more common physiologies are therefore warranted. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the cardiac anatomy of the South American rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus). The cardiovascular physiology of this species has been investigated in a number of studies, whereas only a few cursory studies exist on the cardiac anatomy of viperid snakes. The heart of C. durissus is typically squamate in many regards. Both atria are thin-walled sacs, and the right atrium is the most voluminous. The single ventricle contains three major septa; the vertical septum, the muscular ridge (MR), and the bulbuslamelle. These partially divide the ventricle into three chambers; the systemic and left-sided cavum arteriosum (CA), the pulmonary and right-sided cavum pulmonale, and the medial cavum venosum (CV). The MR is the most developed septum, and several additional and minor septa are found within the CA and CV. An extraordinary thin cortical layer encloses the ventricle, and it is irrigated by a remarkably rich arborization of coronary arteries. Previous studies show high degrees of blood flow separation in the Crotalus heart, and this can only be explained by the coordinated actions of the septa and the prominent atrioventricular valves. J. Morphol. 271:1066-1077, 2010. (C) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.