Originally I was pondering about why we have the ability to breathe manually. I couldn't think of any tangible advantage, given that the body can develop mechanisms to regulate the rate of breathing when needed.

An uncited source (on reddit) said "any animal that can vocalise 'can' breathe manually." Is that true?

Secondly, do non vocal animals, for eg., some arthropods, not have any conscious control over their rate of breathing?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you talking about slowing breathing if they are trying to be stealthy, or vocal communication? $\endgroup$ – James Oct 28 '19 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ @James any form of manual/forceful inspiration/expiration. I interpreted the answer (on reddit) in the sense that being able to control breathing is a necessity to be able to speak/vocate; although I'm not very sure. Just wanted some more insight into the matter. $\endgroup$ – animul Oct 28 '19 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ Could you link to the Reddit? This site works best when the questions are specific and answerable. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 28 '19 at 16:00
  • $\begingroup$ reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/2b927k/… $\endgroup$ – animul Oct 28 '19 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think I see the problem. You need to properly define what breathing manually is. For example, a bird may have to control its breathing to sing, but may not willingly hold its breath per se. Would that count? Any dog owner knows dogs will restrict their panting as soon as they see a squirrel or equally chasable critter. Would that count? $\endgroup$ – James Oct 28 '19 at 16:11

Some mollusks have lungs and can use breath for nest building, defense and diving. They have 100 times less neurons than arthropods.

semi-aquatic insects can control air for going under-water, and some spiders, beetles and spittle-bugs can control bubbles. There are even shrimps that snap at water to produce bubbles.

Fish can hoover and squirt out targets using gulps, without even having lungs, build bubble nests and they also have a swim bladder that they can use to control buoyancy. Human lungs and fish swim-bladders are thought to have evolved from primitive fish that gulp air: https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160819/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

It illustrates early vertebrate control of breath-like mechanisms. It's sometimes their main mode of interacting with objects and prey.

Some reptiles hold their breath under water and use bubbles, i.e. iguanas, water anoles and crocodiles. Some reptiles can vocalize, i.e. gecko's : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q_1KW0Q-10 Scientists don't think that they have much conscious thought.

Amphibians can hold their breath for long periods to swim and use the throat to hoover prey, and most frogs can vocalize: https://youtu.be/y7F0ObBiHio

orang-utans can blow bubble gum, swimming birds and mammals can often do a lot of bubble stuff.

Perhaps the truth pivots on knowing what animal consciousness is, which is amply debated on the web.

Manual involves hands. Consciously and voluntarily involve thought, and those are the words used in biology.

Animal will and conscious reasoning is one of the most controversial topics in science, and scientists still argue both ways, because they CAN argue, and there is no agreed measure of consciousness.

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    $\begingroup$ showing invertebrates posses something does not preclude a group of vertebrate lacking it. Some insects also have wings and parental care. breathing control is not hard to evolve so it could easily evolve multiple times. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 30 '19 at 1:32

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