Sengis are eutherian insectivores belonging to superorder Afrotheria, a recently defined clade of mammals that diverged from other placentals over 100 million years ago. In this study, a histological and ultrastructural analysis was carried out on the olfactory mucosa (OM) of the rufous sengi (Elephantulus rufescens) and the data were compared with those reported earlier in the dog (Canis familiaris) and the sheep (Ovis aries), whose dietary lifestyles are carnivorous and herbivorous, respectively. Qualitatively, the microstructure of the sengi's OM was basically similar to that of the other eutherian mammals except for differences in the pattern of cilia projection from the dendritic knobs of the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and distribution of Bowman's glands within the lamina propria of the OM. On morphometry, significant differences (p < .05) were recorded with respect to olfactory epithelial (OE) thickness between the sengi (65.4 ± 2.6 μm) and the other species. ORN packing density and cilia number/ORN knob varied markedly only between the sengi (73.8 ± 5.4 mm−2 × 103 and 15 ± 4, respectively) and the sheep. No remarkable differences were noted in regard to ORN bundle diameters between sengis (62.7 ± 12.5 μm) and the other species. The observed differences in OM structural refinement may be attributed to olfactory function demand levels related to feeding lifestyles and ecology. Myrmecophagous insectivory, social monogamy, absentee maternal care and exposed sheltering habits are behavioural features that may warrant substantial OM modification in sengis.
Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ;
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