Comparative Anatomy (8 of 8): Respiratory System

Lesson Title: Comparative Anatomy (8 of 8): Respiratory System
Academic Standards: HS-LS1-2; HS-LS1-3
Content Creator: Mrs. Wendy Martin
Level: High School
Duration: 30-40 min
  /  Comparative Anatomy (8 of 8): Respiratory System


  • Students will understand the function of the respiratory system.
  • Students will learn the organs of the human respiratory system.
  • Students will discuss lung structure including the alveoli.
  • Students will understand how the water vascular system plays a role in respiration in starfish.
  • Students will understand gill function in the squid and dogfish.
  • Students will understand how all mammal lungs are similar in form and function.
  • Students will manipulate the specimens studied.


The respiratory system works closely with the circulatory system to deliver oxygen to the cells and rid the body of carbon dioxide. The human respiratory system includes the nasal cavity, the trachea and bronchial tree, and the primary organs, the lungs. In the animal kingdom, aquatic and terrestrial animals have different modes of respiration. Students will explore these differences, looking at the role of the water vascular system, skin, gills, and lungs in respiration. Students will look closely at and manipulate the following specimens: a starfish, a squid, a dogfish, and a mammal. They will look closely at respiratory structures.


  1. Discuss the function the respiratory system.
  2. Discuss the structure of the human respiratory system.
  3. Allow students to manipulate the trachea and lungs.
  4. Show 360 video of lung structure.
  5. Discuss how the starfish uses the water vascular system to breathe.
  6. Allow students to handle a starfish.
  7. Discuss how the squid and dogfish use gills to breathe.
  8. Allow students to handle both a squid and starfish.
  9. Show two videos: "How Gills Work" and "Whale Shark Gills"
  10. End with a discussion of how mammalian lungs are all similar on structure and function.
  11. Allow students to observe pig and cat lungs.

Suggested Ancillary Support