Design of Lizard Lungs

Design of Lizard Lungs
Brown Anole Lizard

Studying the design of lizard lungs may lead to innovations in developing artificial lungs for humans. A Princeton University study showed how reptile lungs develop. Human lungs take months to develop, and that makes repair very difficult. The Princeton researchers studied the development of lungs in brown anole lizards and found that their lungs develop in a few days.

In the brown anole lizard, fluid fills the area that will become a lung and pushes against smooth muscle tissue until gaps develop in the muscle. Then, a membrane protrudes through the gaps so that a large surface area forms, and within two days, the surface area is ready for gas exchange. Researchers were able to build a working replica mimicking the lizard’s natural process of lung development.

The Princeton researchers say that the process is a simple mechanical process that could be a model for “advanced biotechnology design.” By copying the design of lizard lungs, it may become possible to produce lung material to replace lungs damaged by disease. The National Science Foundation says this discovery could lead to innovations in artificial lung design and development. God’s design of living things is very complex, but sometimes humans can copy a simple creative method like this lizard lung development.

Medical science can eventually treat almost all chronic human ailments by recognizing God’s design. Celeste Nelson, who authored the lizard studies, said, “If we appreciate that there’s a lot of biodiversity that we can’t see, and we try to take advantage of it, then we as engineers will have more tools to tackle some of the major challenges that face society.” Likewise, we can improve the future of human health by studying living things, including God’s design of lizard lungs.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: National Science Foundation and Science Advances