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Preview: Journal of Morphology

Journal of Morphology

Wiley Online Library : Journal of Morphology

Published: 2018-03-01T00:00:00-05:00


Ultrastructural description of the spermatogenesis and spermatozoa in Phaenocora unipunctata (Platyhelminthes, Neotyphloplanida)


Ultrastructural studies of spermiogenesis and sperm morphology have found many characters that are likely to provide clues to the phylogeny of the Platyhelminthes. However, the lack of information on many free-living groups has been a limiting factor. There is a single description of the spermatogenesis and spermatozoa in a Phaenocora species, namely P. anomalocoela, therefore a similar analysis was made in Phaenocora unipunctata to compare the intrageneric variation of sperm ultrastructure and spermatogenesis in the Neotyphloplanida. The comparison of the two Phaenocora species shows that several characters have the potential to be relevant to hypothesize phylogenetic relationships at different taxonomic levels. The presence of superficially incorporated axonemes outside the ring of cortical microtubules in the mature sperm cell, resulting from the fusion of the axonemes with the median cytoplasmic process during spermiogenesis, as well as the presence of a constant number of microtubules in the different regions of the spermatozoon, seem to constitute apomorphies of the genus Phaenocora. Furthermore, the presence of an axonemal spur, the compression of cortical microtubules by the rotation of the basal bodies during spermiogenesis, and the presence of a connection between the nucleus and the plasma membrane in the mature spermatozoon, support previous proposals that these characters are apomorphies of Dalytyphloplanida. The comparison of spermatogenesis and spermatozoa of P. unipunctata and P. anomalocoela demonstrates that studying intrageneric variation can give valuable insights into the significance of many characters proposed for phylogenetic studies of the Rhabdocoela. The comparative analysis of spermatogenesis and sperm ultrastructure in Phaenocora shows that the study of intrageneric variation can give valuable insights into the significance of characters proposed for phylogenetic studies of the Rhabdocoela.

Heterochrony in fringeheads (Neoclinus) and amplification of an extraordinary aggressive display in the Sarcastic Fringehead (Teleostei: Blenniiformes)


The Sarcastic Fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi, Teleostei) exhibits an extreme version of a common aggressive display, the “gaping display,” in which an open mouth is presented toward an opponent. Males of this species have extremely long jaws that extend posteriorly well past the posterior margin of the head and are flared laterally during the gaping display. In this study, we explored morphological traits related to this extraordinary display in this and related species of blennies. Morphological modifications include enlargement of the buccopalatal membrane, elongation of the maxilla via an uncalcified posterior extension, and evolution of a novel hinge between the anterior maxilla and lacrimal bones permitting lateral movement of the upper jaw. Geometric morphometry using the truss network system, thin-plate spline, and PCA of three closely related species of Neoclinus indicate that the elongate maxilla of N. blanchardi most likely evolved via acceleration (faster growth compared to outgroups) and hypermorphosis (continued growth to a larger body size), both forms of peramorphic heterochrony. Coloration and fluorescence of the buccopalatal membrane may also serve to amplify the extraordinary gaping display of the Sarcastic Fringehead. The Sarcastic Fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi) shows an extreme version of an aggressive gaping display. Three main features amplifying this display are an enlarged buccopalatal membrane, an elongate maxilla bone, and a notched lacrimal bone.

Tooth germ initiation patterns in a developing dentition: An in vivo study of Xenopus laevis tadpoles


The transparency of soft tissue in Xenopus laevis tadpoles and the anterior-posterior orientation of their developing tooth germs in the upper jaw offer a unique opportunity for the in vivo charting of the first 15–20 days of the developing dentition. Twenty-two X. laevis tadpoles were anesthetized daily and their mouths opened to record the first appearance, position, and development of tooth germs in the upper jaw. The initiation patterns revealed considerable variability between animals, and even between the jaw quadrants in the same animal. This variability appears within a structural boundary and the results are consistent with the presence of an odontogenic band. The final length of dental rows far exceeded the jaw growth for each quadrant during the recording period. This in vivo investigation underlines the limits of cross-sectional studies, and in particular the assumption that tooth germs initiate at the same position in the dental row. The tooth germ initiation patterns in this study did not align with the predictions of standard models for the development of the dentition—Zahnreihen, Clone, and New Progress Zone theories. Tooth initiation patterns reveal considerable variability between X. laevis tadpoles. This variability is also appears between the left and right upper jaw quadrants in the same animal as demonstrated in the graphs of tooth germ occupancy over time at different tooth positions in the jaw.

SALMFamide2 and serotonin immunoreactivity in the nervous system of some acoels (Xenacoelomorpha)


Acoel worms are simple, often microscopic animals with direct development, a multiciliated epidermis, a statocyst, and a digestive parenchyma instead of a gut epithelium. Morphological characters of acoels have been notoriously difficult to interpret due to their relative scarcity. The nervous system is one of the most accessible and widely used comparative features in acoels, which have a so-called commissural brain without capsule and several major longitudinal neurite bundles. Here, we use the selective binding properties of a neuropeptide antibody raised in echinoderms (SALMFamide2, or S2), and a commercial antibody against serotonin (5-HT) to provide additional characters of the acoel nervous system. We have prepared whole-mount immunofluorescent stainings of three acoel species: Symsagittifera psammophila (Convolutidae), Aphanostoma pisae, and the model acoel Isodiametra pulchra (both Isodiametridae). The commissural brain of all three acoels is delimited anteriorly by the ventral anterior commissure, and posteriorly by the dorsal posterior commissure. The dorsal anterior commissure is situated between the ventral anterior commissure and the dorsal posterior commissure, while the statocyst lies between dorsal anterior and dorsal posterior commissure. S2 and serotonin do not co-localise, and they follow similar patterns to each other within an animal. In particular, S2, but not 5-HT, stains a prominent commissure posterior to the main (dorsal) posterior commissure. We have for the first time observed a closed posterior loop of the main neurite bundles in S. psammophila for both the amidergic and the serotonergic nervous system. In I. pulchra, the lateral neurite bundles also form a posterior loop in our serotonergic nervous system stainings. Schematic overview of the S2amidergic (magenta) and the serotonergic (yellow) nervous systems in the three acoels, Symsagittifera psammophila (left), Isodiametra pulchra (middle), and Aphanostoma pisae (right). Asterisk marks the position of the statocyst.

Electron microscopic characterization of nuclear egress in the sea urchin gastrula


Nuclear egress, also referred to as nuclear envelope (NE) budding, is a process of transport in which vesicles containing molecular complexes or viral particles leave the nucleus through budding from the inner nuclear membrane (INM) to enter the perinuclear space. Following this event, the perinuclear vesicles (PNVs) fuse with the outer nuclear membrane (ONM), where they release their contents into the cytoplasm. Nuclear egress is thought to participate in many functions such as viral replication, cellular differentiation, and synaptic development. The molecular basis for nuclear egress is now beginning to be elucidated. Here, we observe in the sea urchin gastrula, using serial section transmission electron microscopy, strikingly abundant PNVs containing as yet unidentified granules that resemble the ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) previously observed in similar types of PNVs. Some PNVs were observed in the process of fusion with the ONM where they appeared to release their contents into the cytoplasm. These vesicles were abundantly observed in all three presumptive germ layers. These findings indicate that nuclear egress is likely to be an important mechanism for nucleocytoplasmic transfer during sea urchin development. The sea urchin may be a useful model to characterize further and gain a better understanding of the process of nuclear egress. Vesicle budding through the nuclear envelope is a newly described mechanism for export of ribonucleoproteins and viruses but is still relatively uncharacterized. The cells of the sea urchin gastrula contain many examples of nuclear envelope budding.

Comparative anatomy of the clasper of the subfamily Potamotrygoninae (Chondrichthyes: Myliobatiformes)


Claspers of stingrays (Myliobatiformes) are poorly documented in comparison to claspers of skates, with our knowledge restricted mainly to external morphological characters and skeletal components included in descriptions of new species; more encompassing morphological comparative analyses are lacking. Concerning potamotrygonins, clasper morphology has been described for a handful of species, but without elucidating their variation and systematic potential. The present article analyzed clasper structures in all genera of the subfamily Potamotrygoninae (Potamotrygon, Paratrygon, Plesiotrygon, and Heliotrygon), which were compared to the clasper of Styracura and some dasyatid genera. Potamotrygon shows some morphometric variation among the species analyzed. Anatomically, we found variation mainly in the dorsal terminal 1 and accessory terminal 1 cartilages, which are considered diagnostic among potamotrygonin genera; external morphological structures did not present significant differences among potamotrygonins. External clasper morphology of Heliotrygon rosai (MZUSP 104996).

Histological, histochemical, and ultrastructural investigation of the male copulatory apparatus of Haminoea navicula (Gastropoda, Cephalaspidea)


Due to its biological and systematic importance, the morphology and function of the male copulatory apparatus of Haminoea navicula, a Cephalaspidea gastropod mollusk, was investigated by light and electron microscopy. These systems are poorly understood in haminoids, but are often used in the taxonomy of the genus. In H. navicula, the male copulatory apparatus comprises the penis within a penial sheath, a seminal duct and the prostate with two lobes. The penis is a muscular structure with a tip covered by spikes formed by muscular cells. The penial sheath consists of muscular tissue folds lined by an epithelium. Below this epithelium, polysaccharide-secreting cells and pigment cells were observed. A large number of vacuolar cells were found below the ciliated epithelium of the seminal duct. The proximal lobe of the prostate was formed by tubules that could be divided in basal, middle and apical zones, containing cells that secrete polysaccharides and proteins. The tubules of the prostate distal lobe contained a single type of secretory cells with vesicles that were stained by histochemical techniques for detection of polysaccharides and proteins. Ciliated cells were present along the tubules in both lobes of the prostate. This study revealed a complex prostate with five types of secretory cells, which secrete substances that should be involved in the maintenance and eventually also in the maturation of spermatozoa. A comparison with previous publications, shows that the male copulatory apparatus can differ substantially among cephalaspideans, even between H. navicula and non-European species attributed to this genus. The male copulatory apparatus of Haminoea navicula includes the penis within a penial sheath, a seminal duct and the prostate with five types of secretory cells. Due to the relevance of copulatory organs in reproductive biology and isolation, histological studies of male copulatory apparatus will certainly contribute to improve understanding of the systematics and evolutionary adaptations in the Haminoeidae family.

Ultrastructure and distribution of sensilla on the maxillary and labial palps of Chlorophorus caragana (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)


Chlorophorus caragana is a species of long-horned beetle that damages Caragana davazamcii Sancz. (Fabales: Papilionaceae) bushes in desert areas in China. The beetles cause substantial damage to local forestry plantations and the environment. Sensilla on the maxillary and labial palps of coleopterans a allow the insects to recognize their host plants. We used scanning and transmission electron microscopy to study the ultrastructure, distribution, and abundance of various sensilla on the maxillary and labial palps of C. caragana. We found four types of sensilla including ten subtypes: one of Böhm's bristles, three of sensilla chaetica, one of digitiform sensilla, and five of sensilla twig basiconica. The types and distribution of the sensilla on the maxillary and labial palps were highly similar between males and females. Finally, this article discusses the functions of the sensilla of related species in recognizing hosts and the significance of gustation studies in the context of the control of C. caragana. Chlorophorus caragana is a newly discovered beetle species damaging desert shrub. The electron microscopic analysis revealed that, on the sensilla twig basiconica of the palps, tip pore structures and dendrites were surrounded by the dendritic sheaths, and the tubular body located at the base of the peg. They all suggested the gustatory function.

The ontogeny of the female reproductive system in the parasitic castrator pea crab Calyptraeotheres garthi: Implications for its mating system


The knowledge of the mating system of pea crabs is still fragmentary as it remains dubious whether females copulate in the juvenile and free-living ‘hard’ or in the obligatory symbiotic stages (adult stage ‘V’ or intermediate stages II to IV). To discriminate between these two possibilities, we analysed the female seminal receptacles, vagina and opercula, and the sperm content in different stages of the pea crab Calyptraeotheres garthi. Our histology and scanning electron microscopy results revealed that in the hard stage the seminal receptacle is simple without secretory epithelia, and vagina and opercula are not controlled by musculature. In stages II to IV, the seminal receptacles, vagina, and opercula are under development and these structures reach maturity in stage V. These results suggest that females become receptive in stage V and not during predating stages. We found no spermatozoa in SR of ‘hard’ and stage II to IV females while these structures were loaded of sperm in most stage V, indicating that females start to mate in stage V. Our results support the notion that males of C. garthi roam among hosts in search for sedentary stage V females, as predicted by Baeza and Thiel's () model of mating systems for symbiotic crustaceans. Nevertheless, we failed to reveal whether females mate repeatedly: the accumulation of sperm in larger females might indicate occurrence of multiple copula or a high variability in male sperm transfer. The seminal receptacle (SR) in hard and II-IV females is simple and does not contain sperm. In stage V, the SR is complex and developed, and loaded with sperm, indicating that females become receptive/start to copulate only from stage V on.

Origin and transformation of the in-flight wing-coupling structure in Psocodea (Insecta: Paraneoptera)


Many four-winged insects have mechanisms that unite the forewings and hindwings in a single plane. Such an in-flight wing coupling apparatus may improve flight performance in four-winged insects, but its structure is variable among different insect groups. The wings of bark lice (Insecta: Psocodea: “Psocoptera”) also have an in-flight wing coupling apparatus, but to date, its morphology has not been studied in detail. In this study, we examined the wing-coupling structure in representative species of the three suborders of bark lice (Trogiomorpha, Troctomorpha, and Psocomorpha) and inferred its origin and transformation. We conclude that the main component of the psocodean wing coupling apparatus evolved once in the common ancestor via modification of cuticular structures at the apex of the forewing CuP vein. Morphological differences in components of the coupling structures are phylogenetically informative at the intraorder level and include an autapomorphy that characterizes Troctomorpha and a synapomorphy that supports a sister relationship between Troctomorpha and Psocomorpha. Wing-coupling structures of insects mechanically unite the forewings and hindwings. The structure in different “Psocoptera” (barklice) groups consists of three functional units, termed retinaculum, CuP tip, and retainer, which originated in the common ancestor, and are phylogenetically informative at different levels in the order.

Elaborate ultrastructure of the Hirudo (Annelida: Hirudinae) cocoon surface


Species of medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis, H. verbana, and H. sulukii) secrete hard-shelled cocoons. When initially deposited, a cocoon is surrounded by a foam. Over a short time, the foam is transformed into a three-dimensional structure. We show here that this peripheral structure likely forms by the solidification and dehydration of a moderately viscous, proteinaceous substance that surrounds bubbles of various sizes. The resulting matrix-like structure comprises a network of curved branches juxtaposed at ∼120° and taper in width as a function of distance from the outer cocoon wall. The material is proteinaceous, and traps environmental material in its composition, especially silicon. The geometry of compartments and abundance of silicon on branch surfaces suggest a mechanism for trapping water to prevent desiccation in a terrestrial environment. Hard-shelled cocoons of medicinal leeches are surrounded by a three-dimensional structure. This structure is likely formed by the solidification and retraction of a viscous, proteinacious substance that surrounds air bubbles of various sizes.

Cephalic muscle development in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri


Lungfishes are the extant sister group of tetrapods. As such, they are important for the study of evolutionary processes involved in the water to land transition of vertebrates. The evolution of a true neck, that is, the complete separation of the pectoral girdle from the cranium, is one of the most intriguing morphological transitions known among vertebrates. Other salient changes involve new adaptations for terrestrial feeding, which involves both the cranium and its associated musculature. Historically, the cranium has been extensively investigated, but the development of the cranial muscles much less so. Here, we present a detailed study of cephalic muscle development in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, which is considered to be the sister taxon to all other extant lungfishes. Neoceratodus shows several developmental patterns previously described in other taxa; the tendency of muscles to develop from anterior to posterior, from their region of origin toward insertion, and from lateral to ventral/medial (outside-in), at least in the branchial arches. The m.protractor pectoralis appears to develop as an extension of the most posterior m.levatores arcuum branchialium, supporting the hypothesis that the m.cucullaris and its derivatives (protractor pectoralis, levatores arcuum branchialium) are branchial muscles. We present a new hypothesis regarding the homology of the ventral branchial arch muscles (subarcualis recti and obliqui, transversi ventrales) in lungfishes and amphibians. Moreover, the morphology and development of the cephalic muscles confirms that extant lungfishes are neotenic and have been strongly influenced via paedomorphosis during their evolutionary history. The first detailed description of cephalic muscle development in the Australian Lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, is provided. Specimens ranging from 8 mm (<< stage 39) to 8 cm (juvenile, stage 57/58) were studied using serial sectioned specimens and diceCT.

Links between the discovery of primates and anatomical comparisons with humans, the chain of being, our place in nature, and racism


I focus on the crucial links between the discovery of nonhuman primates by Westerners, discussions on our place in nature, the chain of being, racism, and the history of primate comparative anatomy and of so-called “anatomical human racial studies.” Strikingly, for more than a millennium humans knew more about the internal anatomy of a single monkey species than about that of their own bodies. This is because Galen used monkeys to infer human anatomy, in line with the human-animal continuity implied by the Greek notion of scala naturae. With the rise of Christianity, nonhuman primates were increasingly seen in a negative way. A more positive view emerged in the 14th century when nonhuman primates were directly studied/seen by Europeans, culminating in Tyson's 1699 work showing that chimps share more gross anatomical similarities with humans than with monkeys. However, the discomfort caused by this human-chimp similarity then led to a new idea of animal-human discontinuity, now related not to anatomy but to “civilization”: between Europeans vs. non-Europeans + other primates. Moreover, Linnaeus' Systema Naturae and the emergence of “anatomical racial studies” influenced by Camper's craniology then led to even more extreme ideas, such as the notion that Europeans were both mentally and morphologically “ideal.” Unfortunately the biased and often incorrect “results” of such studies, combined with ideas based on Darwin's “struggle for survival”, became crucial in propaganda that lead to the rise of eugenics in the end of the 19th/first half of 20th centuries and that culminated in Nazism. Since the 1950s there has been an emphasis on the continuity/unity between all human groups and other primates, in great part influenced by what happened during World War 2. Reviews such as this one are, therefore, particularly necessary to illuminate and guard against attitudes against “the Other” and racist ideologies that are re-emerging in modern political discourse across the globe. - For more than a millennium humans knew more about the internal anatomy of a single monkey species than about that of their own bodies, because Galen used monkeys to infer human anatomy, in line with the human-animal continuity implied by the Greek notion of scala naturae.- With the rise of Christianity, nonhuman primates were increasingly seen in a negative way, but a more positive view emerged in the 14th century when nonhuman primates were directly studied/seen by Europeans, culminating in Tyson's 1699 work showing that chimps share more gross anatomical similarities with humans than with monkeys.- However, the discomfort caused by this human-chimp similarity then led to a new idea of animal-human discontinuity, now related not to anatomy but to “civilization”: between Europeans versus non-Europeans+other primates, leading to the rise of so-called ‘racial anatomical studies’ and of racism, which was crucial for the rise of eugenics and of Nazism.

Microvascular characteristics of the acoustic fats: Novel data suggesting taxonomic differences between deep and shallow-diving odontocetes


Odontocetes have specialized mandibular fats, the extramandibular (EMFB) and intramandibular fat bodies (IMFB), which function as acoustic organs, receiving and channeling sound to the ear during hearing and echolocation. Recent strandings of beaked whales suggest that these fat bodies are susceptible to nitrogen (N2) gas embolism and empirical evidence has shown that the N2 solubility of these fat bodies is higher than that of blubber. Since N2 gas will diffuse from blood into tissue at any blood/tissue interface and potentially form gas bubbles upon decompression, it is imperative to understand the extent of microvascularity in these specialized acoustic fats so that risk of embolism formation when diving can be estimated. Microvascular density was determined in the EMFB, IMFB, and blubber from 11 species representing three odontocete families. In all cases, the acoustic tissues had less (typically 1/3 to 1/2) microvasculature than did blubber, suggesting that capillary density in the acoustic tissues may be more constrained than in the blubber. However, even within these constraints there were clear phylogenetic differences. Ziphiid (Mesoplodon and Ziphius, 0.9 ± 0.4% and 0.7 ± 0.3% for EMFB and IMFB, respectively) and Kogiid families (1.2 ± 0.2% and 1.0 ± 0.01% for EMFB and IMFB, respectively) had significantly lower mean microvascular densities in the acoustic fats compared to the Delphinid species (Tursiops, Grampus, Stenella, and Globicephala, 1.3 ± 0.3% and 1.3 ± 0.3% for EMFB and IMFB, respectively). Overall, deep-diving beaked whales had less microvascularity in both mandibular fats and blubber compared to the shallow-diving Delphinids, which might suggest that there are differences in the N2 dynamics associated with diving regime, phylogeny, and tissue type. These novel data should be incorporated into diving physiology models to further understand potential functional disruption of the acoustic tissues due to changes in normal diving behavior. Deep-diving beaked whales have a lower degree of microvascularity in their jaw fats compared to shallow-diving species. These novel data suggest potential differences in tissue gas dynamics, which should be considered in future diving models.

Ear ossicle morphology of the Jurassic euharamiyidan Arboroharamiya and evolution of mammalian middle ear


The middle ear bones of Mesozoic mammals are rarely preserved as fossils and the morphology of these ossicles in the earliest mammals remains poorly known. Here, we report the stapes and incus of the euharamiyidan Arboroharamiya from the lower Upper Jurassic (∼160 Ma) of northern China, which represent the earliest known mammalian middle ear ossicles. Both bones are miniscule in relation to those in non-mammalian cynodonts. The skull length/stapedial footplate diameter ratio is estimated as 51.74 and the stapes length as the percentage of the skull length is 4%; both numbers fall into the stapes size ranges of mammals. The stapes is “rod-like” and has a large stapedial foramen. It is unique among mammaliaforms in having a distinct posterior process that is interpreted as for insertion of the stapedius muscle and homologized to the ossified proximal (stapedial) end of the interhyal, on which the stapedius muscle attached. The incus differs from the quadrate of non-mammalian cynodonts such as morganucodontids in having small size and a slim short process. Along with lack of the postdentary trough and Meckelian groove on the medial surface of the dentary, the ossicles suggest development of the definitive mammalian middle ear (DMME) in Arboroharamiya. Among various higher-level phylogenetic hypotheses of mammals, the one we preferred places “haramiyidans” within Mammalia. Given this phylogeny, development of the DMME took place once in the allotherian clade containing euharamiyidans and multituberculates, probably independent to those of monotremes and therians. Thus, the DMME has evolved at least three times independently in mammals. Alternative hypothesis that placed “haramiyidans” outside of Mammalia would require independent acquisition of the DMME in multituberculates and euharamiyidans as well as parallel evolution of numerous derived similarities in the dentition, occlusion pattern, mandibles, cranium, and postcranium between the two groups and between “haramiyidans” and other mammals. J. Morphol., 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Bony labyrinth morphology in early neopterygian fishes (Actinopterygii: Neopterygii)


Endocasts of the osseous labyrinth have the potential to yield information about both phylogenetic relationships and ecology. Although bony labyrinth morphology is well documented in many groups of fossil vertebrates, little is known for early Neopterygii, the major fish radiation containing living teleosts, gars and the bowfin. Here, we reconstruct endocasts of the bony labyrinth and associated structures for a sample of Mesozoic neopterygian fishes using high-resolution computed tomography. Our sample includes taxa unambiguously assigned to either the teleost (Dorsetichthys, “Pholidophorus,” Elopoides) and holostean (“Aspidorynchus,” “Caturus,” Heterolepidotus) total-groups, as well as examples of less certain phylogenetic position (an unnamed parasemionotid and Dapedium). Our models provide a test of anatomical interpretations for forms where bony labyrinths were reconstructed based on destructive tomography (“Caturus”) or inspection of the lateral wall of the cranial chamber (Dorsetichthys), and deliver the first detailed insights on inner ear morphology in the remaining taxa. With respect to relationships, traits apparent in the bony labyrinth and associated structures broadly support past phylogenetic hypotheses concerning taxa agreed to have reasonably secure systematic placements. Inner ear morphology supports placement of Dapedium with holosteans rather than teleosts, while preserved structure in the unnamed parasemionotid is generalized to the degree that it provides no evidence of close affinity with either of the crown neopterygian lineages. This study provides proof-of-concept for the systematic utility of the inner ear in neopterygians that, in combination with similar findings for earlier-diverging actinopterygian lineages, points to the substantial potential of this anatomical system for addressing the longstanding questions in the relationships of fossil ray-finned fishes to one another and living groups. J. Morphol., 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Anatomy and histology of the prostate and glands of Cowper in three species of neotropical bats


The reproductive accessory glands (RAG) are essential components in reproduction because their secretion products ensure survival, viability, and sperm motility. The objective of this study was to characterize and compare the morphological and histological structure of the RAG in three species of bats of the genus Sturnira (S. erythromos, S. lilium, and S. oporaphilum). The RAG complex comprise a compact gland (prostate), which surrounds the urethra, and a pair of Glands of Cowper at the base of penis. Anatomical and histologically, the prostate are differentiated in two regions, ventral and dorsal. The dorsal region has tubuloalveolar glands with secretions fine granular or accumulations of a gel-like substance with bubbles and the ventral region, has alveolar glands with secretory cells form a single-layer of small cells. The seminal vesicles are absent. The prostatic morphology of the three species is similar to that of other studied Stenodermatinae and Desmodontinae, but differs from other subfamilies of Phyllostomidae (Carollinae, Glossophaginae, and Phyllostominae) as that of Molossidae and Vespertilionidae. The RAG complex has no annual variation in relation to functionality or size, but it is variable depending on age (subadults and adults). This agrees with the annual reproductive pattern described for these species in these latitudes, where adult males are reproductively active throughout the year. In Sturnira accessory sexual glands complex is conformed exclusively by prostate and Cowper's gland, the seminal vesicles are absent. The absence of Seminal vesicle and two prostate region may imply that dorsal region is homologue to seminal vesicle.

Macroscopic and microscopic analyses in flexor tendons of the tarsometatarso-phalangeal joint of ostrich (Struthio camelus) foot with energy storage and shock absorption


Flexor tendons function as energy storage and shock absorption structures in the tarsometatarso-phalangeal joint (TMTPJ) of ostrich feet during high-speed and heavy-load locomotion. In this study, mechanisms underlying the energy storage and shock absorption of three flexor tendons of the third toe were studied using histology and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Macroscopic and microscopic structures of the flexor tendons in different positions of TMTPJ were analyzed. Histological slices showed collagen fiber bundles of all flexor tendons in the middle TMTPJ were arranged in a linear-type, but in the proximal and distal TMTPJ, a wavy-type arrangement was found in the tendon of the M. flexor digitorum longus and tendon of the M. flexor perforans et perforatus digiti III, while no regular-type was found in the tendon of the M. flexor perforatus digiti III. SEM showed that the collagen fiber bundles of flexor tendons were arranged in a hierarchically staggered way (horizontally linear-type and vertically linear-type). Linear-type and wavy-type both existed in the proximal TMTPJ for the collagen fiber bundles of the tendon of the M. flexor perforatus digiti III, but only the linear-type was found in the distal TMTPJ. A number of fibrils were distributed among the collagen fiber bundles, which were likely effective in connection, force transmission and other functions. The morphology and arrangement of collagen fiber bundles were closely related to the tendon functions. We present interpretations of the biological functions in different positions and types of the tendons in the TMTPJ of the ostrich feet. Struthio camelus, light micrographs of the tendon of the M. flexor digitorum longus. (a, c, e) Longitudinal and (b, d, f) transverse sections of the tendon in (a, b) proximal, (c, d) middle and (e, f) distal TMTPJ.

Size, shape, and sex-dependent variation in force production by crayfish chelae


The ability to generate large closing forces is important for many animals. Several studies have demonstrated that bite or pinching force capacity is usually related to the linear dimensions of the closing apparatus. However, relatively few studies have applied geometric morphometrics to examine the effects of size-independent shape on force production, particularly in studies of crustacean pinching force. In this study, we utilized traditional and geometric morphometric techniques to compare the pinching force of Procambarus clarkii crayfish to their chela morphology. We found that males possessed larger chelae and pinched harder than females, but that their chela shape and size were weak predictors of strength. Female pinching force was significantly affected by both chela size and shape, with shape variation along the short axis of the claw contributing most to pinching force. We discuss our results in the context of reliable signaling of strength by males and females, and the different selective forces acting on chela shape in the two sexes. Geometric and traditional morphometrics were applied to the study of pinching force by chelae of the crayfish Procambarus clarkii. Chela size and shape were better predictors of force production in females than in males. Sex differences in the size- and shape-force relationships suggest different selection pressures on males and females of this species.

The development of lingual glands in the domestic duck (Anas platyrhynchos f. domestica): 3D-reconstruction, LM, and SEM study


The major salivary glands of birds develop by branching or elongation of the epithelial cords. The development of the minor salivary glands in form of the lingual glands has never been described. Among birds, only Anatidae have three types of the lingual glands: rostral, caudo-lateral, and caudo-medial lingual glands. The study aims to characterize the manner and rate of the lingual glands development in the domestic duck and their topographical arrangement relative to the hyoid apparatus. The study reveals that all three types of the lingual glands develop by branching. We describe five stages of the lingual glands development in the domestic ducks: prebud, initial bud, pseudoglandular, canalicular, and terminal bud stage. The pattern of the lingual glands development in birds is similar to that described for mammals, with the exception, that the terminal buds are formed at the same time as the lumen of the glands. Generally, the rostral lingual gland starts to branch earlier than the caudal lingual glands. The 3D-reconstruction shows the location and direction of lingual gland development relative to the entoglossal cartilage and basibranchial bone. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy allow to characterize the histogenesis of the embryonic epithelium into glandular epithelium. At a time of hatching only secretory units of caudal lingual glands resemble the secretory units of the adult domestic duck. The rostral and caudo-lateral lingual glands are arranged on the sides of the entoglossal cartilage and basibranchial bone and caudo-madial lingual glands are located over the basibranchial bone. We suggest that such an arrangement of the lingual glands in the domestic duck is important during food intake and responsible for reduction of friction and formation of food bites. 3D-reconstructions and microscopic observations were used to describe the development of the lingual glands in the domestic duck. The three types of the lingual glands develop by branching of the epithelial cords. Generally, the rostral lingual glands branch earlier than the caudal lingual glands. Light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy document the differentiation of the simple epithelial cords of lingual glands into complex alveolar-tubular glands.

Ultrastructure of endocrine pancreatic granules during pancreatic differentiation in the grass snake, Natrix natrix L. (Lepidosauria, Serpentes)


We used transmission electron microscopy to study the pancreatic main endocrine cell types in the embryos of the grass snake Natrix natrix L. with focus on the morphology of their secretory granules. The embryonic endocrine part of the pancreas in the grass snake contains four main types of cells (A, B, D, and PP), which is similar to other vertebrates. The B granules contained a moderately electron-dense crystalline-like core that was polygonal in shape and an electron-dense outer zone. The A granules had a spherical electron-dense eccentrically located core and a moderately electron-dense outer zone. The D granules were filled with a moderately electron-dense non-homogeneous content. The PP granules had a spherical electron-dense core with an electron translucent outer zone. Within the main types of granules (A, B, D, PP), different morphological subtypes were recognized that indicated their maturity, which may be related to the different content of these granules during the process of maturation. The sequence of pancreatic endocrine cell differentiation in grass snake embryos differs from that in many vertebrates. In the grass snake embryos, the B and D cells differentiated earlier than A and PP cells. The different sequence of endocrine cell differentiation in snakes and other vertebrates has been related to phylogenetic position and nutrition during early developmental stages. Based on their biology, reptiles are unique among the vertebrate taxa. Studies on the differentiation of the grass snake pancreatic cells revealed similarities and differences compared to the same process that has been described in other vertebrates. Based on our studies, we revealed that the endocrine pancreas of the grass snake contains four main types of endocrine cells (A, B, D, PP), which is similar to other vertebrates because it is probably an evolutionarily conserved feature of this gland. Within the main types of granules (A, B, D, PP), different morphological subtypes that indicated their maturity, which may be related to the different content of these granules during the process of maturation, could be distinguished.

Built to bite? Differences in cranial morphology and bite performance between narrow- and broad-headed European glass eels


The presence of two phenotypes in a single species is a widespread phenomenon, also observed in European eel (Anguilla anguilla). This dimorphism has been related to dietary differences in the subadult elver and yellow eel stages, with broad-heads generally feeding on harder and/or larger-bodied prey items than narrow-heads. Nevertheless, both broad- and narrow-headed phenotypes can already be found among glass eels, the stage preceding the elver eel stage. As these glass eels are considered nonfeeding, we investigate here to what degree the observed variation in head width is reflected in variation in the musculoskeletal feeding system, as well as whether this reflects the same variation observed in the older, dimorphic yellow eels. Additionally, we investigate whether musculoskeletal differences between broad- and narrow-headed glass eels have implications on their feeding performance and could thus impact prey preference when eels start feeding. Therefore, we compared the cranial musculoskeletal system of five broad- and narrow-headed glass eels using 3D-reconstructions and simulated the glass eel's bite force using the data of the muscle reconstructions. We found that the variation in the musculoskeletal system of glass eels indeed reflects that of the yellow eels. Broader heads were related to larger jaw muscles, responsible for mouth closure. Accordingly, broad-heads could generate higher bite forces than narrow-headed glass eels. In addition, broader heads were associated with higher coronoid processes and shorter hyomandibulae, beneficial for dealing with higher mechanical loadings and consequently, harder prey. We, thus, show that head width variation in glass eels is related to musculoskeletal differences which, in turn, can affect feeding performance. As such, differences in prey preference can already take place the moment the eels start feeding, potentially leading to the dimorphism observed in the elver and yellow eel stage. Having a wide or narrow head in nonfeeding European glass eels can be linked to musculoskeletal differences affecting feeding performance. This may give broad-headed eels the advantage to start consuming harder prey items than narrow-heads can.

Shape disparity of bovid (Mammalia, Artiodactyla) horn sheaths and horn cores allows discrimination by species in 3D geometric morphometric analyses


The bony cranial structures of even-toed hoofed mammals are important for understanding ecology and behavior of ruminants. Horns, the cranial appendages of the family Bovidae, are covered in a layer of keratin that is often not preserved in the fossil record; however, this keratin sheath is intimately involved in the processes that influence horn shape evolution. To understand the relationship between these two components of horns, we quantified both core and sheath shape for four extant species using three-dimensional geometric morphometric analyses in separate, core- and sheath-specific morphospaces as well as a combined morphospace. We assessed correlations between the horn and sheath morphospaces using two-block partial least squares regression, a Mantel test of pairwise distances between species, and Procrustes ANOVA. We measured disparity in the combined morphospace as Procrustes distances between mean shapes of cores and sheaths within and between species and as Procrustes variance. We also tested whether core and sheath shapes could be discriminated by taxon with a canonical variate analysis. Results show that horn core and sheath morphospaces are strongly correlated. The differences in shape between a species' core and sheath were statistically significant, but not as great as those between the cores and sheaths of different species when close relatives were not considered, and core and sheath Procrustes variances are not significantly different within species. Cores and sheath shapes were highly identifiable and were assigned to the correct clade 93% of the time in the canonical variate analysis. Based on these tests, horn cores are distinguishable in geometric morphometric analyses, extending the possibility of using geometric morphometrics to study the ecology and evolution of bovid horns to the fossil record. Bovid horn cores and sheaths have distinct but highly correlated shapes that are correctly identifiable to a priori species groups using geometric morphometric analyses. This finding supports the use of cores as representatives of the horn covered by its keratin sheath in horn shape studies.

The middle and inner ears of the Palaeogene golden mole Namachloris: A comparison with extant species


Many living species of golden moles (Chrysochloridae) have greatly enlarged middle ear ossicles, believed to be used in the detection of ground vibrations through inertial bone conduction. Other unusual features of chrysochlorids include internally coupled middle ear cavities and the loss of the tensor tympani muscle. Our understanding of the evolutionary history of these characteristics has been limited by the paucity of fossil evidence. In this article, we describe for the first time the exquisitely preserved middle and inner ears of Namachloris arenatans from the Palaeogene of Namibia, visualised using computed tomography, as well as ossicles attributed to this species. We compare the auditory region of this fossil golden mole, which evidently did not possess a hypertrophied malleus, to those of three extant species with similarly sized ear ossicles, Amblysomus hottentotus, Calcochloris obtusirostris, and Huetia leucorhinus. The auditory region of Namachloris shares many common features with the living species, including a pneumatized, trabeculated basicranium and lateral skull wall, arteries and nerves of the middle ear contained in bony tubes, a highly coiled cochlea, a secondary crus commune, and no identifiable canaliculus cochleae for the perilymphatic duct. However, Namachloris differs from extant golden moles in the apparent absence of a basicranial intercommunication between the right and left ears, the possession of a tensor tympani muscle and aspects of ossicular morphology. One Namachloris skull showed what may be pneumatization of some of the dorsal cranial bones, extending right around the brain. Although the ossicles are small in absolute terms, one of the Huetia leucorhinus specimens had a more prominent malleus head than the other. This potentially represents a previously unrecognised subspecific difference. The Palaeogene chrysochlorid Namachloris had small ossicles and a tensor tympani muscle. Its middle ear cavities did not intercommunicate. Like some other afrotherians, it had a secondary crus commune but no distinct canaliculus cochleae.

Morphological fine tuning of the feeding apparatus to proboscis length in Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera)


The form and function of the hesperiid feeding apparatus was studied in detail. The butterflies in the family Hesperiidae are of particular interest because the longest proboscis ever recorded in Papilionoidea was found in the Neotropical genus Damas. We focused on the functional morphology by comparing proboscis morphology as well as size and composition of both the stipes pump and the cibarial suction pump in skippers with short and extremely long proboscis. Results revealed that all studied Hesperiidae have the same proboscis micromorphology and sensilla endowment regardless of the proboscis length. However, the numbers of internal muscles of the proboscis, the morphology of the stipes pump as well as the pumping organs for nectar uptake are related to the proboscis length. We conclude that the low number of tip sensilla compared to proboscis length is responsible for remarkably longer manipulation times of long-proboscid species during flower visits. The organs for proboscis movements and nectar uptake organs are well tuned to the respective proboscis length and are accordingly bigger in species with a proboscis that measures twice the body length. Anatomical costs of extremely long proboscis; estimated dimensions of organs for proboscis movements and nectar up take correspond with proboscis length; sensilla equipment of drinking region not related to proboscis length.

Intraspecific variation in the domestic cat bony labyrinth revealed by different measurement techniques


The knowledge of intraspecific variation is important to make assumptions on an interspecific level. To study intraspecific variation in the bony labyrinth morphology of the domestic cat, eleven specimens of Felis silvestris catus and two additional subspecies (F. s. lybica, F. s. ornata) were investigated. The sample comprises skulls of adult males and females, as well as juvenile cats. Each bony labyrinth endocast was virtually reconstructed based on µCT scans. To estimate the radius of curvature of each inner ear semicircular canal, three different approaches were tested. The comparison of the different methods resulted in different absolute values for the measured radii. The assumed best structure to precisely characterize the size of a semicircular canal is the inner perimeter. Within the tested sample, the anterior semicircular canal is always the largest, while the posterior semicircular canal is the second largest and the lateral semicircular canal the smallest in most cases. The coefficient of variation lies below 10% for all bony labyrinth measurements within the sample. The inner perimeter values of each semicircular canal are similar within all investigated specimens, even though the skull length of adult cats is twice as long as that of juvenile cats. Thus, inner ear biometry of the domestic cat seems stable throughout growth series and can therefore be used for systematic and ecological studies and the inclusion of juvenile individuals is reasonable. It is noteworthy that the inner perimeter values of the semicircular canals do not vary as much as the values of the angles spanned between the three canals within the sample. The inner ear within the cat skull is oriented about 25° to 31° to the palate (angle between the plane anchored to the lateral semicircular canals (SC) and the plane anchored to the palate). The cochlea coils between 3.00 and 3.25 turns in the investigated sample. The size dimensions of the domestic cat bony labyrinth were measured and while the skull length of an adult cat (left) is twice the length of a juvenile cat skull (right) the inner ears are of similar size in both ontogenetic stages.

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