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Abstract

After dissecting a variety of vertebrate hearts and extensively reviewing the literature, I have drawn some conclusions concerning the phylogeny of the tetrapod heart that differ from commonly expressed viewpoints in the literature. It is probable that the absence of an interventricular septum in amphibians is a primitive feature (rather than representing a loss). The complete interventricular septum of crocodilians and birds probably evolved primarily from the major horizontal septum of the typical (noncrocodilian) reptilian heart, with a smaller part representing a new development. The interventricular septum of mammals probably also evolved primarily from the reptilian horizontal septum. There is no reason to assume that the mammalian heart and aortic arches evolved directly from a pre-reptilian stage, as is often assumed. The evidence upon which these conclusions are based is given.