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an internal nasal orifice in vertebrates, including man. Choanae evolved after the development of constant or periodic breathing of air. They first arose in crossopterygian and dipnoan fish. In dipnoan embryos, grooves starting from the olfactory sacs change into canals whose internal orifices, or primary choanae, open into the oral cavity. In dipnoan fish, with aquatic respiration, air flows to the lungs through the canals. In terrestrial vertebrates, a naso-oral canal forms during embryonic development and connects with the external nasal orifices, or nostrils, to the oral cavity, where it opens into the primary choanae. In amphibians the choanae remain in this position throughout life. In mammals and in some reptiles and birds the upper part of the oral cavity into which the primary choanae open becomes separated from the lower part because of the development of the secondary hard palate; it forms the nasopharyngeal duct, which opens into the pharyngeal cavity through the secondary choanae. In crocodiles, some birds, and especially mammals the secondary choanae recede farther into the pharynx as the secondary hard palate lengthens. The formation of a nasopharyngeal duct separated from the lower part of the oral cavity and the recession of the choanae close to the larynx enable animals and humans to breathe freely when food is in the oral cavity.