ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Computer graphics illustration of human red blood cells (erythrocytes) in an artery. The principal function of erythrocytes is the distribution and transport of oxygen & carbon dioxide around the body. They are biconcave in shape, an adaption which provides the maximum surface area for the exchange of gases, and highly elastic, enabling them to pass through the narrow capillary vessels. The interior of the cell is packed with haemoglobin, a red iron-containing pigment which has a good oxygen carrying capacity. The nucleus and other organelles are lost as the cell matures.
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