Fruit fly “Head-Heart” Beats Almost Like Human Hearts
Biologists at the University of Iowa found that the head-heart is not controlled by the fly’s brain but the muscle itself, similar to how the human heart is controlled by specialized muscle cells located within the heart itself.
One of these is the fly’s so-called “head-heart.” This tiny pumping station supplies hemolymph—the insect equivalent of blood—to the fly’s antennae. While biologists have long known about the existence of the fly head-heart, no one had explored how it worked in much detail.
In a new study, biologists at the University of Iowa give a full accounting how the fly’s head-heart functions. The researchers discovered the fly’s head-heart beats much like a human’s: Its rhythmic pulses are automatically generated by a tiny muscle that runs through the middle of the brain, from front to back of the fly’s head, and it’s this muscle’s contraction and relaxation that drives the supply of hemolymph into the antennae.
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