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The respiratory system is a system of organs of humans and other animals, which serves for the gas exchange of the body with the environment (ensures the supply of oxygen and the removal of carbon dioxide). Oxygen organisms can receive from the air (air breathing), or consume oxygen dissolved in water (water breathing). Respiratory organs are present only in aerobic organisms, in anaerobic organisms they are absent. In humans, other mammals and birds, the anatomical features of the respiratory system include the respiratory tract, lungs, and special muscles. In some animals (in particular, amphibians, fish, and a number of crustaceans), skin respiration plays a vital role in gas exchange when oxygen enters through the surface of the body. Intestinal respiration is often referred to as skin respiration when the function of gas exchange is performed by the intestinal lining (in the intestinal cavity). In fish and other aquatic animals, the main respiratory organ is the gills — the outgrowths covered with blood vessels. Insects have a very simple respiratory system – the trachea (thin pneumatic tubes). Plants also have a respiratory system, but the direction of gas exchange is opposite to that of animals. In protozoa and lower multicellular organisms (protozoa, sponges, intestinal cavities, many worms) respiratory organs are absent, and gas exchange is carried out only by diffuse respiration (through the surface of the body).
Organ pernapasan hewan dibentuk sehubungan dengan peningkatan area permukaan pernapasan: tonjolan atau lengketnya kulit. Kebanyakan hewan air primer memiliki tonjolan-tonjolan luar yang melakukan fungsi pernapasan: insang ikan dan krustasea, ctenidia moluska, buku insang kepiting tapal kuda, insang kulit echinodermata. Pada beberapa hewan air, permukaan pernafasan internal terbentuk: paru-paru air teripang, sistem pernapasan dubur dalam larva capung, plastron dalam beberapa kutu air.