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Keywords:

  • Trichechus inunguis;
  • Amazonian manatee;
  • anatomy;
  • uterus;
  • ovary

Abstract

The Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) is uniparous and has a slow reproduction cycle due to a long gestation period and long interval between births. Even though protected by law, hunting remains one of the main causes hindering the natural population growth of this species in the wild. The histology and reproductive anatomy provide information on the history and reproductive status of the female and offer a tool for the conservation of the species. The present study describes the anatomy of the female reproductive tract in T. inunguis. It is based on materials from three reproductive tracts fixed in 10% buffered formalin. The ovaries, uterine tubes, uterus, vagina, and external genitalia are described. The hymen presents two tiny openings separated by a segment that, upon rupturing during the first copulation, should make up a single vaginal opening. A still intact hymen and the absence of placental scars in the uterus were found in one specimen. Additionally, the presence of a hemorrhagic body and Graafian follicles on the right ovary were observed, as well as whitish scars and among them, possible corpora albicantia. These findings suggest that T. inunguis undergoes infertile estrus cycles before its first gestation. Macroscopically, counting of the whitish scars is hindered by the small diameter of these structures. It is not possible to differentiate between the scars resulting from ruptured (corpora albicantia) and nonruptured follicles (regressed corpora atretica). The presence of whitish scars on both ovaries of the same specimen suggests their bilateral function in T. inunguis. Anat Rec, 291:557–564, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.