Following the path of my super predator, I thought that one interesting characteristic can be breath while is eating or producing sounds, an addition that could be useful for do not lose time during the alimentation or eat(when I say eat I mean swallow) while is running and for some intelligence comunicate with others or produce sounds to trick the preys. (But also I want genetical modifcated humanoids with a similar characteristic, for this the requirement of the voice).

In simple words I want to know how to separe the respiratory, vocal and ingestive tracts. Working indepently

So, I was considering some options for this but till now dont fill my expectatives:

  1. The whale, in this case I am not sure but remember that whales have differencied plates between the trachea and esophagus, because the trachea is just conected eith the nostrils and the esophagus, so the eating while breathing could be solved, but the comunication still being basic the most time. (I dont know if dolphins with a more complex language have the same system).

  2. The next options were amphibiasn like axolotls, this animals have 3 respiratory systems, lung, dermical and gill respiration, but the dermical is denied when I remembered that this requires a very sensible skin which also makes dehydration a more notorious problem and gills (till where I know) probably can not make atmosferical oxygen exchange.

  3. Then the banshees from avator looked like a good option, but I dont know if a respiratory system like this really could work in phyisical and biological terms of the real life. Because have a respiratory tract divided in two widely separated respiratory passages, in what would be the collarbone and with a head obvioulsy used for feeding and that can produce sounds, this made thought that can inhale by this passages and exhale by the neck and then mouth. And in addition because have wings looks like they do not have problems with the force of the arms Following this concept, the most realistic thing that I found were the Alphynix's land sharks, but they can not exhale by the mouth.

In addition this I have considered that a syrinx could solve the problems for vocalizations.

  1. And as a last option something like the xenomorph respiration. Probably based on insects but upgrade than just be passive, the xenomorphs can take air from their pipes or chimneys, and decide if want exhale from these or for the mouth. But neverless can create a several structural problems to the muscle anchors, bones and the pipes look that can not filter air or be closed (even if in some movies can swim or stay at space). So, the biomechanics still being complicated

So, how could be a good respiratory system that can do at least two of the three proposed actions at the same time? (Would be amaizing if can do three actions at the same time).

And the bigger complications would come if I want specific functions like the super efficient oxygenation of the sauropods, the air sacks from birds, the powerful lungs of cheetahs and horses or the resistance of humans, but I thought I will search solutions then, but if now you have possible solutions do not hesitate to say it.

Maybe I have been too conventional and for that I can not think more alternatives.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (1) Humans can (and routinely do) eat and breathe at the same time. What we cannot do is swallow food while breating. (2) In cetaceans the oesophagus and the larynx cross without sharing any opening. The larynx "punches through" the oesophagus, so that cetaceans have no problem eating, and breathing or vocalizing at the same time. (That is, they cannot breathe through their mouths, even if they wanted to.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP. So Im gonna change that, I just assumed as different things eat and chew. And about the cetaceans thats the reason why Im asking, I thought that dolphins could be different because can produce more complex sounds. $\endgroup$
    – Drakio-X
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


I think you're heading in the right direction with cetaceans. While it's true that dolphins and whales usually breathe through their noses (their blowholes), dolphins at least can, in fact, breathe through their mouths in extremis.

Dolphins have an anatomical structure called the goosebeak which is basically the epiglottis drawn up through the esophagus and into the posterior nasal cavity:

enter image description here

This is apparently a function of musculature, as dolphins can relax the muscles voluntarily (or under anesthesia), dropping the epiglottis back down into the common oro-nasal pharynx.

With this kind of structure, you're halfway there! Such a creature can swallow and breathe at the same time.

In order to separate speech / phonation from eating & breathing, is going to be a rather different chore. When humans talk, they do in fact breathe at the same time: they're able to control intake & exhalation to coincide with the words being spoken. A creature that can truly breathe independently of its speech-respiration will an order of magnitude more complex.

One might think: well, there are two lungs, why not breathe with one and talk with the other! The problem with that line of thinking is that both lungs are located within the same thoracic cavity. The diaphragm muscle engages, thus creating a negative pressure situation within the cavity that causes the lungs the expand, drawing in air. Your creature would need, essentially, two thoracic cavities.

This can be accomplished in a couple different ways. One is to create a separate goosebeak for each of two separate trachea-lung passages. You'd need to create a kind of semirigid septum within the thoracic cavity that would keep one lung (and likely the heart) on one side, and the other lung on the other side. And then you'd need separate and independently controllable diaphragms. This would I think be over complex and would lead to a new problem: you've got a mouth for eating, attached to the esophagus; and you've got a nose for breathing (attached via one of the goosebeaks to one of the lungs. But where is the third orifice, the one for speech? You'd basically need another mouth, or perhaps another head!

There are a couple solutions to this problem:

If you're considering a humanoid type creature, you could solve it by creating an Ettin, a unitary two headed humanoid, not to be confused with a conjoined twin, that breathes and eats through one head and talks with the other.

You could also devise a somewhat elongated humanoid creature with two thoracic cavities, one above the other. The upper thorax and its lungs would be connected to the nose & mouth through a perfectly ordinary oro-nasal pharynx. This allows simultaneous speech & eating and because the upper lungs have no respiratory function, or perhaps only a secondary function, there's no worry for choking on food or drink. They simply have to pause their elocution to swallow!

The lower thorax and its lungs could be connected to lateral spiracles, muscular openings that can be opened and closed to allow air to be drawn into the respiratory lungs. This would allow such people to breathe normally while eating and talking all at the same time. Something like this, but more anatomical and less traumatic:

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Spiracles are a complex part, specially for, dont generate new problems, I thougth big holes in tje chest in fact could bring more problems to the biomechanics. $\endgroup$
    – Drakio-X
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Drakio-X - Spiracles are complex indeed: the image is just to illustrate that people can in fact breathe through holes in their sides. And yes, spiracles will introduce a whole new set of problems. But at least your creatures can eat, talk and breathe at the same time! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 13:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .