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The lateral line system in larval ichthyophis amphibia gymnophiona



The lateral line system in larval ichthyophis amphibia gymnophiona



Zoomorphologie 93(3): 209-226



The lateral line systems of larval cecilians of the genus Ichthyophis possess 2 types of elements, free neuromasts and ampullary organs. Free mechanoreceptive neuromasts are typical of those found in other vertebrates, and are arranged in series roughly homologous to neuromast groups in many other fishes and amphibians. In contrast to other amphibians, Ichthyophis larvae possess only 1 paired, dorsal body series of neuromasts. Regional specialization of neuromasts is evident in Ichthyophis. Premaxillary and anterior head neuromasts are the largest in size and total cell number. Size and total cell numbers are correlated with epidermal depth. Neuromasts on the anterior sides of the head occur in slight grooves and have apical tips situated farther below the level of the epidermis and with greater apical indentation. These features probably provide increased protection against abrasion. Apparently abnormal neuromasts are frequently found among the neuromast series. Such neuromasts contain fewer cells that lack normal apical extension, producing a sunken effect similar to that of the ampullary organ elements. The ampullary organs of Ichthyophis are morphologically similar to those found in various freshwater fishes and known to function as electroreceptors. These organs are not observed in the lateral line systems of members of other amphibian orders (Urodela and Anura), and they may function as electroreceptors. The sunken neuromasts of the Ichthyophis lateral line system may parallel the possible evolutionary development of pit organs from normal neuromasts.

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