• extramandibular fat;
  • striped dolphin;
  • NMR;
  • morphology;
  • lipids


The molecular and histological structure of the fat bodies covering externally the posterolateral region of the jaw of the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) was investigated by means of morphological and nuclear magnetic resonance techniques. The analyses of samples belonging to adult and juvenile individuals were performed with the aim of seeking the presence of age-related differences. In our study, the level of isovalerate (iso5:0) in the extramandibular fat of the juvenile individuals is comparable with those of the adult counterparts; conversely, longer isobranched fatty acids were detected in lower quantities in the juveniles together with a higher degree of unsaturation. The morphologic analyses revealed that, in both adults and juveniles, this fatty tissue is similar to univacuolar adipose tissue. However, in the juveniles, a muscular component was present, whereas only in adult subjects, enlarged and irregularly shaped cavities may be seen within the adipose tissue. These cavities, structurally organized as veins, may regulate blood flow in response to changing water temperature and stabilize thermal gradient within the jaw lipids. These data suggest that the molecular components and the histological organization can indicate a maturation of the organ with age that probably may reflect different sound reception properties. Anat Rec, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.