We have conducted for the first time a comparative study of the prenatal development of the vestibular system in representatives of pinnipeds (Phocidae, Otariidae, Odobenidae) and cetaceans (Odontoceti, Mysticeti) in comparison with terrestrial mammals. This allowed us to perform a detailed study of the structural organization of the inner ear in species with different ecological specialization, to find out adaptive aspects and stages of the formation of cochlear and vestibular structures in each of the studied species, and to correlate it with the properties of the environment. Studies on early embryogenesis of the labyrinth in cetaceans and pinnipeds, which represent a special direction in the evolution of placentates, give a significant contribution to the solution of the problem of the evolutionary origin of the labyrinth in the mammals studied. Sensory systems clearly demonstrate the scope of evolutionary and adaptive transformations, which appear in mammals during the transition from the terrestrial to the aquatic mode of life. At the same time, these results may provide help in understanding the general trends of the development of structure and function of the inner ear in mammals as a whole.
Russian Journal of Developmental Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 9, 2004
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