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Ontogenetic development of the otic region in the new model organism, Leucoraja erinacea (Chondrichthyes; Rajidae)

  • Cathrin PFAFF (a1), Jürgen KRIWET (a1), Kyle MARTIN (a2) and Zerina JOHANSON (a2)

Cartilaginous fishes have a long evolutionary history dating back 440 million years and include model organisms in a number of fields of biological research. However, comparative developmental studies of these organisms, particularly neuroanatomical investigations, still remain sparse. Here, pre-hatching to adult developmental stages of the Little Skate, Leucoraja erinacea, are investigated using micro-computed tomography scanning in conjunction with staining procedures designed to improve visualisation of soft tissues. Within the ear, the anatomy of the skeletal labyrinth changes during ontogeny and differs substantially from the underlying membranous system, contrary to previous observations in sharks. Additionally, substantial morphological remodelling characterises the parietal fossa, which appears initially as a massive and hook-like structure and subsequently becomes slender and surrounded by soft tissue. The sizes of the vestibular system and neurocranium increase isometrically from pre- to post-hatching phases, and then exponentially after the post-hatching stages.

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