Ultrastructure of the olfactory system of three newborn marsupial species

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Abstract

The ultrastructure of the olfactory apparatus of three newborn marsupial species, the northern native cat, the brushtail possum, and the northern brown bandicoot, were examined. The olfactory epithelium and olfactory bulbs were at a similar stage of development in all three species. Receptor cells with cilia were observed, and although the olfactory system undergoes further differentiation during pouch life and although the olfactory epithelium and bulb of the newborn differs from that of the adult, these facts do not preclude the ability of the newborn to detect smell. The presence of touch receptors around the mouth region and of sensory cells within the olfactory epithelium would suggest that touch and smell are two of the senses allowing the newborn marsupial to reach the pouch.

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