Gas exchange occurs through lungs. Most snakes have only one lung (on the left). The heart has three chambers, two atria and one ventricle, except in crocodilians, in which a second ventricle is present, producing a four-chambered heart much like that of mammals. Even in reptiles with a three-chambered heart, a septum exists within the ventricle and minimizes mixing of oxygenated and nonoxygenated blood. Researchers have studied the physiological mechanisms associated with exhaustive locomotion and have found interesting parallels between reptiles and mammals in the rapidity of recovery from exhaustion. A major difference, however, is that mammals exhibit a so-called exercise effect (exercise-induced ability to mobilize greater levels of oxygen and, hence, to work harder than was possible before exercise), whereas no reptile has yet been shown to do this.

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