A cow is a mammal, right? So, then it should only have one heart. Or does it? Well, if you’re a fan of mythology and folklore, you may have read or heard that cows have two or even four hearts! Which is fascinating if you stop to imagine a cow walking around while functioning with two or four hearts!
Do cows have four hearts? No, cows don’t have two or even four hearts. Biologists will tell you that a cow has one heart divided into four chambers. The same applies to all mammals (even us human beings) and birds. The cow’s heart is bigger compared to the smaller mammal and it’s also more muscular.
With this question cleared up, read on to find out more about the cow heart. While a cow does not have more than one heart, find out more about this mammal’s essential beating organ. The facts are just as fascinating as is the myth around a cow having four hearts!
Why do people think a cow has 4 hearts?
Right, so we know the cow doesn’t have four hearts. Instead, like the human heart, it has a single heart which is sub-divided into four chambers. Which may explain the original confusion around how many hearts a cow has!
Two of the chambers known as ventricles, are used for pumping the blood. The other two chambers or atriums are used for receiving blood.
How much does a cow heart weigh?
The basic function of the heart is to keep the body alive by pumping oxygenated blood around it. This principle applies to both the animal and the human being. The cow is a large and solid creature so it would make sense to assume it has a big heart to keep it healthy. But, just how large is the cow’s heart and how much does it weigh?
A cow’s heart can measure around one foot in diameter which is big! Our human heart is about the size of a large apple or fist to give you some idea of how large a cow’s heart actually is. The next question one would naturally then ask is how much does a cow’s heart weigh.
An average cow’s heart weighs five pounds. This is quite a bit more than the human’s heart which weighs anything from seven to 15 ounces.
And, while I’m comparing cow hearts vs. human hearts, you may be interested to know that both mammals’ hearts beat at more or less the same tempo.
Can humans have cow hearts?
Because the cow and human heart both beat at similar tempos you may be wondering if the heart of the bovine could not be used in the man’s body.
Firstly, the cow’s heart would be too big for the human body (it measures about the same as our heads!) Secondly, it simply would be too heavy for our comparatively smaller bodies to carry.
However, surgeons are using cow heart valves and tissues of this organ to replace damaged human heart valves. So, while humans can’t take advantage of the whole cow heart, they can benefit from cow heart valves and tissues.
How many stomachs does a cow have?
Along with the myth that a cow has four hearts are stories of the cow having multiple stomachs. If the story tells you the cow has four stomachs, then you’re being told the truth this time round!
The cow has a special digestive process which is essential for breaking down the coarse type of food it eats. Having four different stomachs allows the cow to digest the food properly.
The first two stomachs accommodate the unchewed food which has been swallowed. These two stomachs are known as the rumen and reticulum.
When the cow settles down for a rest from grazing, it brings up the unchewed food also known as cud. The cud gets chewed more thoroughly and proceeds to the next two stomachs known as the omasum and abomasum. The food is then fully digested in these stomachs.
Handy Hint: Cows are big-hearted creatures and can show love and affection towards humans in many different ways.
How a cow’s heart is used in modern culture
Now we know that a cow does not have four hearts, but just the one, here’s a closer look at how it has been used by humans.
Primarily, the cow’s heart is used for keeping the animal alive and healthy. But it can be used for a number of other reasons once the cow has been butchered for meat:
- Dissection: The cow’s heart resembles the biology of the human heart. This means they’re often used in biology classes or medical schools by students exploring how the human heart functions.
- Cooking: The cow’s heart is rich in minerals and nutrients, it’s also free of grains often found in other cuts of meat. In the U.S., the cow’s heart is known as the beef heart and is cheaper compared to other meat cuts.
- Animal food: Being cheaper than other beef cuts, the cow’s heart is often used as a byproduct in animal feed and pet food.
- Fertilizer: Cow hearts are sometimes broken down together with other offal parts to produce fertilizer rich in useful minerals.
The cow heart plays an affordable and useful role in so many ways, so it’s never discarded once the animal is butchered.
Does any animal have 4 hearts?
If you’re feeling disappointed to find out that the cow does actually only have one heart, let me assure that there are other animals who do have multiple hearts. Discover which one has four hearts in my list below:
Handy Hint: Did you know that some cows have been seen to jump as high as five feet over a fence!?
These tiny creatures have five pseudo-hearts! They’re called aortic arches and are located close to the earthworm’s mouth. They function like a normal heart in pumping blood and oxygen around the body.
Squids and octopuses
These sea creatures have three hearts. The main heart is designed to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. The other two hearts pump the blood through the gills before reaching the main heart. This is to allow for oxygenation of the blood.
This eel-like water creature has four hearts. The branchial heart pumps blood throughout the fish’s body while the remaining three hearts are called accessory pumps.
An interesting fact about this primitive fish is that it lives at the bottom of the ocean with limited access to oxygen. Their hearts can beat for 36 hours without any oxygen!
All mammals have one heart but creatures from other kingdoms such as those mentioned above go all out when it comes to having more than one heart to function.
So, there you have it. You now know how many hearts a cow has… just the one!