The Comparative Morphology of Pit Organs in Elasmobranchs

Publisher:
Wiley-Liss
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal Of Morphology, 2009, 270 (6), pp. 688 - 701
Issue Date:
2009-01
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The pit organs of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) are free neuromasts of the mechanosensory lateral line system. Pit organs, however, appear to have some structural differences from the free neuromasts of bony fishes and amphibians. In this study, the morphology of pit organs was investigated by scanning electron microscopy in six shark and three ray species. In each species, pit organs contained typical lateral line hair cells with apical stereovilli of different lengths arranged in an "organ-pipe" configuration. Supporting cells also bore numerous apical microvilli taller than those observed in other vertebrate lateral line organs. Pit organs were either covered by overlapping denticles, located in open grooves bordered by denticles, or in grooves without associated denticles. The possible functional implications of these morphological features, including modification of water flow and sensory filtering properties, are discussed.
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