Ants have hearts in the form of a dorsal vessel, a long elongated tube which pumps hemolymph, the arthropod version of blood, throughout their bodies. To be more precise, the ant heart refers to the posterior region of the dorsal vessel located in the ant’s abdomen.
In this article, we’ll talk about the dorsal vessel’s structure, it’s function, and how it differs from our hearts.
What Is The Dorsal Vessel?
As mentioned, the dorsal vessel is an elongated tube that runs throughout the ant body. It’s made up of two regions, the aorta and the heart. The former is a simple, open-ended tube which extends through the thorax to the head. It is where hemolymph emerges to bathe the head organs and muscles.
The latter on the other hand, is a close-ended pumping organ located in the abdomen. This section of the dorsal vessel is the what’s referred to as the ant heart.
This heart consists of chambers separated by valves called ostia, which ensure the one-way flow of the circulatory fluid. Attached to these walls are muscles which contract to push the hemolymph forward from one chamber to another until it eventually reaches and emerges from the aorta.
Function Of The Dorsal Vessel
Like our hearts, the main function of the dorsal vessel is to pump and conduct circulatory fluid, which in ants is called hemolymph, forward from the ant’s abdomen to the head. This is to allow the hemolymph to transport nutrients to and waste from the cells in the body.
Human Heart Vs Dorsal Vessel
The most obvious difference between the human heart and dorsal vessel lies within the structure. Our hearts are complex fist-sized organs composed of four chambers, a variety of valves, and a network of veins and arteries which all work together to pump and transport blood.
The dorsal vessel on the other hand, is a relatively simple elongated tube and is essentially just an artery.
These differences in structure characterize the type of circulatory systems that the human heart and dorsal vessel are found in. The former for instance, is found in a closed circulatory system and is characterized by the blood always being restricted and contained into blood vessels.
In contrast, the dorsal vessel is found in an open circulatory system wherein apart from when hemolymph (blood) is within the dorsal vessel, such hemolymph isn’t restricted and simply flows freely.
In terms of function, both the heart and the dorsal vessel are mostly similar as they work to pump circulatory fluid and move it around the body.
Unlike blood though, hemolymph doesn’t contain hemoglobin, and is therefore unable to carry oxygen. As such, the dorsal vessel isn’t used as a transport system for ant respiration whereas our hearts and blood are both necessary to deliver oxygen to the cells in our bodies.
Do Ants Have Blood?
Ants don’t have blood, they have hemolymph, a similar circulatory fluid which facilitates the transfer of nutrients and hormones inside the ant body. Unlike blood however, hemolymph consists of hemocytes and does not contain red blood cells and hemoglobin.
Do Ants Have Lungs?
Ants don’t have lungs. Instead, they have a tracheal respiratory system as characterized by holes on their exoskeletons called spiracles and the trachea, a network of tubes that branch and distribute oxygen throughout their bodies.
Summary: Do Ants Have Hearts?
Ant hearts refer to the posterior region of the dorsal vessel, an elongated tube that runs throughout the ant body. Like our hearts, this dorsal vessel pumps hemolymph, the ant’s circulatory fluid, to allow the transfer of nutrients to and waste from the cells in the body.